With an unrelenting feel-good sound, canny lyrics and a frontman with a history of being a traveling troubadour, Sonny And The Sunsets could without a doubt be transported a few decades back and fit in as comic book and cartoon show with the likes of Josie And The Pussycats. Although band leader Sonny Smith actually already has a project called 100 Records where he creates music for fictional bands, there is nothing hypothetical about the eminence of Sonny And The Sunsets’ sophomore release.
Appropriately titled Hit After Hit, the album could be the soundtrack to a riotous sock hop, and each song is an animated story on its own.
The steady opener “She Plays Yo-Yo With My Mind” smoothly eases listeners into the escapades that will follow, as the lyrics hint at the album’s radiance. Smith sings, “When I see you/ The sun starts to shine,” which is exactly what happens at the tick of the album’s first note. Smith talks about a girl messing with his head, yet he shows little frustration. He remains calm, and there is nothing alarming about his voice, which is one of the reasons that the music is so accessible. He is the level-headed character that never panics.
After all, there isn’t much reason for panic, as the gang, which includes other notable San Francisco-based musicians like Kelley Stoltz, Tahlia Harbour, Ryan Browne, and Zack Ehrlich, does not get into too much trouble and mostly has an easy life filled with trips to beach and holding hands with girls on the boardwalk.
Smith wins over the girls with rockabilly grooves and lyrics like that in “Girls Beware,” where he sings, “Girls don’t despair cause soon I’ll be there.” Harbour responds with lovely back-up vocals that are sweet as cotton candy. But
problems finally stir up on “The Bad Energy From LA Is Killing Me,” a devilish instrumental track filled with a deep bass and haphazardly plucked guitar strings, which depict a group of troublemakers racing into town. Rightfully so, the track is followed by the charged “Teen Age Thugs.” While the track is not too suspenseful, it has a funky bassline and psychedelic guitars as Smith mockingly asks, “Is he beast or is he man?”
While Hit After Hit is not as quirky as its predecessor, Tomorrow Is Alright, the characters are livelier. Sonny And The Sunsets are developing a stronger sound while still holding onto the romance and charming sing-alongs of their previously adored releases.