Discovering old music isn’t hard, but what is hard, is discovering the alternative, underground older music. Well, technically, the internet makes it a piece of piss, but it still requires some active looking. The old music that’s easy to discover is the mainstream successes that were also good. Not shitty number ones from shitty bands with no shelf life, but legit, great bands. Then there are the legit great bands who never quite cracked the mainstream. They’re the bands I tend to love at the time. So I’ve decided to seek out those kinds of bands from before my time. Starting with a band that certain dudes a few years older than me seem to revere, while I couldn’t name single song. The band is Sunnyboys, and the album is Sunnyboys.
Straight away, I can hear why these guys have stuck around in the minds fans from back in the day. They were pretty ahead of their time. I Can’t Talk to You and My Only Friend don’t sound like 1981 to me. They sound like the jangled guitars of the post punk 80s. They sound like an early step towards the gentle rock of the shoegazing British 90s. They sound like the singer / songwriters of the years since, who traded in their acoustic guitars for full backing bands.
Basically, if I was a fan of Sunnyboys in 1981, songs like Trouble in My Brain and Gone would have made me see so much of this band’s influence in the years since. When they get a little more moody with the ominous organ filled Gone, Sunnyboys sounds a little more of its time. But when the guitars break through, they prove to once again be the key to the Sunnyboys sound that made it prophetic then and surprisingly timeless today.
Wow, Alone With You is a commercial radio standard that I must have heard hundreds of times over the years. And until now, I had now idea that I had no idea who sang it. There you go. I’d say it’s a song I’ve never disliked, but I think it’s a song I’ve always just taken for granted as an old radio staple. Hearing it here, in the context of the album, I think I all of a sudden really dig it. Tunnel of Love also backs that up, with a very similar energy and tone to Alone With You. They work as a great pair, showing this band when they get a little louder.
As Sunnyboys winds towards its end, I realise I might be getting a little hyperbolic with my praise. Not that I like it less than I did a few tracks ago, or all of sudden think it’s not all that good. But because I think the timeless nature I keep banging on about might be more a result of sticking to the basics and doing it really, really well. Because Let You Go and I’m Shakin’ are just great, guitar based pop song. Nothing more, nothing less. And that’s nothing to be sneezed at.
Maybe it’s as simple as Sunnyboys the band and Sunnyboys the album hold up so well now, because they mastered and executed the basics so well, that they never needed to over compensate with tricks or gimmicks that have dated so many other bands if that era in the years since.