Album Review by Allie LaRoe
Home Anywhere, the latest EP from Sunset Lines, evokes the satisfying intimacy at the end of a particularly good party. Home Anywhere was recorded primarily in Sunset Lines’ own studio, overcoming the relocations of band members and remote practice sessions. It’s mirrored in the EP itself, as the songs increase in intensity.
Sunset Lines is a Bay Area based group founded by Liz Books (vocals/synth) and Paul McCorkle (producer/synth). The band took a creative hiatus after their first album Slippery Slope, and after re-imagining their sound and bringing in fresh talent in the form of Ben Manning (drums) and Scott Smit (bass), they had just returned to the stage when the pandemic hit.
Shimmering synths surround Liz Brooks’ vocals on the catchy opening track, “Unresponsive," as she tackles the too-familiar insecurity of your text message being left as Read. Meanwhile, the rhythm section demands body movement. By the time the final line, It’s not me, it’s you pipes through your headphones, you’ll be primed for an 80’s final-scene-style fist pump.
While listening to the first song, you might think it’s time to pull out your roller skates and let Sunset Lines score the music for a trip down a boardwalk, but the EP takes you deeper than mere cotton candy good vibes.
Changing the tone of the EP, “Phototaxis” unfurls in a daydreamy sigh, with a bridge that foreshadows a coming storm. A storm that locks eyes with you in the form of the next song, “Smoke Signals." Synths that have up to this point been atmospherically verdant, turn to striking stabs encircling the vocals. Reminiscent of No Doubt’s Tragic Kingdom, “Smoke Signals” explores themes of creative ennui and the pressure to maintain momentum. You know it’s not a Race to the Finish Line remarks the pre-chorus, and you can almost imagine Brooks singing it to herself after some new setback.
If “Smoke Signals” pulls you into the corner and asks for your opinion on world events, “Read the Whole Room” smiles in that uncanny way that makes you wonder what they know and you don’t. Spacious and haunting, don’t confuse its sparsely resonant delivery with mellowness, as teeth are revealed beneath the reverb in sharply observant lyrics.
The night turns uncanny in “Season of the Witch” and makes you feel like it is your first glimpse at reality through the fog of infatuation. It opens with sensitive piano and an “aw shucks” shuffle on the drums, before evolving into a beguiling siren choir chorus, then finally soaring into the night leaving a disappointing love interest to watch from afar.
The EP winds down with “Easy to Offend," a soaring track that feels like getting sucked through a neon portal to a grown-up ‘Never-Ending Story.' while obsessing about things you maybe shouldn’t have said. Despite being created in enforced social distancing, Home Anywhere elevates and connects us through the messiness of our shared humanity. Blast this EP when you’re ready to shift the night to heady conversations and heavy eye contact.