Spacey Jane - Sunlight Review

Label: AWAL Recordings Ltd.

Release Date: 12th June 2020

Rating: 8/10

"Aptly named Sunlight, this album shimmers with the freedom of a long, hot Aussie summer."

Sunlight artwork.

Sunlight might be their debut album, but Spacey Jane are far from new kids on the block.

The foursome formed in 2016 and became an immediate hit, not only seeing success in their native Australia but also worldwide. ‘Feeding the Family’, released in 2017, has amassed over five million streams on Spotify. ‘Good for You’, was already released as an EP last year, entering triple j’s hottest 100 of 2019. The band were supposed to be on tour in the UK this month, but plans have been changed due to COVID-19.

It almost seems criminal that this first album has been released when everyone is forced to stay inside. This is the sort of music you're supposed to see live, surrounded by a crush of people, feeling the reverberations of the guitars shake through the crowd. This album is no different; aptly named Sunlight, it shimmers with the freedom of a long, hot Aussie summer.

The band's frontman Caleb Harper sums up how the band imagined the blissed-out sound in an interview with triple j: “sun's setting over the ocean, you're driving down Marine Parade in Cottesloe with the windows down ...and doing that thing with your hand out the window making waves with it.”

Despite increasingly fast tempos, with ‘Good for You’ brimming with raw energy, the songs have an easy, laidback sound. The lightness of the synth lines in ‘Weightless’ temper some of the harder guitar solos.

Harper’s raspy vocals seem to channel The Kooks, and the songs are reminiscent of other Australian garage rock bands, with elements of Ocean Alley, Sticky Fingers, and Powderfinger. If there was one criticism of the album, this would be it: with many of the songs, you get the vague sense you’ve heard them before, though you can’t quite put your finger on where. This amalgamation of classic indie rock isn’t necessarily a bad thing, though. They may not have the most radical new sound, but the open, guitar-led music is easy to love.

Listening closer, you soon realise the album isn’t all summer laughter and festival vibes. The upbeat melodies belie a darker tone that colours the album, with the lyrics often holding painful truths. Harper describes the songs as “full of apologies”, and uses the often self-critical lyrics to explore the loneliness of heartbreak, the existential anxieties of growing up, and issues with mental health.

‘Booster Seat’ describes the obvious but effective metaphor of trusting other people in the way, a child unquestioningly relies on their parents keeping them safe: "well, I felt like a kid, like I could touch my feet / As they hovered above the ground in my booster seat." ‘Head Cold’ outlines how depression and drinking ruined a relationship, the raw lyrics examining the fall out in painful clarity.

There is a relentless forward momentum to even the most melancholy of their songs. ‘Skin’ brings this powerful optimism, with its anthemic lyrics; "if you’re looking for redemption then it’s breathing underneath your skin / And if you wanna start the healing then you’ll have to let someone in." Above anything, it's a hopeful album, which is more necessary in our current climate than the band could ever have predicted.

Words by Mairead Zielinski.

19th June 2020.

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