REVIEW: Sun Bones' New Self-Titled Release Fine Tunes the Nearly Decade-Old Act

In their titular release, to be out officially on May 19, Sun Bones have presented an album of what they do best: Neo-soul tinged ballads with beautiful harmonies blended with jerky frenetic pop songs. It’s a very radio-friendly album full of twists and turns that echo shades of Grizzly Bear and The Beach Boys if they were left in the sun too long.

Sun Bones have been together for almost a decade and it really shows on this new album. With the addition of Laura Kepner-Adney late last year and the amicable departure of Evan Casler around the same time, the group has emerged stronger and a little more focused.

On the album’s opening song, “Good in Red,” the singers are in a vocal call and response battle to the death, with lyrics about removing clothes and “taking it all night.” This trend of sexual exploits is repeated on the third track, “Never Going Back,” which talks about getting busy in someone’s sister’s car. The album really picks up on the track, “Ersilia.” This track starts with muted guitar strumming and vocals by Sam Golden, but rounds out to be the first rocking song on the album with some sweet organ thrown in there for good measure.

The most interesting evolutionary step for the band comes in the songs “Boy” and “Don’t Stop Talking About It.” “Boy,” for instance, has great backing vocals without becoming too distracting, and the same goes for “Don’t Stop Talking About It.” The latter song also has that call and response vocal technique between of guitarist Sam Golden and bassist Robert Hanshaw that kicked off the album. Hanshaw takes over as lead vocalist on the bridge, which is effective and catchy.

The album is most successful because the songs are expertly arranged. “It’s You” is an upbeat stuttering rocker with glitch guitar and vocals coming in and out of time with the music. On the song “You’re Gonna Die,” Hanshaw tells us what we already know: we are accidents and life is beautiful and brief. Despite the grim title and bleak message, “You’re Gonna Die” is probably the catchiest song on the album with gritty guitars and a chorus proclaiming that, you guessed it, “We’re all going to die.”

On the last track “Arms,” the band presents another ballad with fingerpicked guitar and a mellow backbeat that crescendos at the chorus. Clearly, Sun Bones knew the sound they wanted to showcase on their self-titled album and they delivered it.

You can catch the band for $5 at their upcoming album release show on Wednesday, May 13 at 191 Toole (191 E. Toole Ave.) with locals Best Dog Award and Kithkin from Washington. Doors open at 6:30 p.m. and music starts 7 p.m. It's an all ages show.