Somehow, the decision for this band to call themselves Sunshine Frisbee Laserbeam just feels inherently perfect. It certainly captures the youthful exuberance and bubbliness of a band who’ve written over a hundred songs to date, and whose adoration of sunny US college-rock from the ‘90s has seen them become mainstays in the Birmingham alt-rock scene. And yet, outside of their local circuits and a select few others, Sunshine Frisbee Laserbeam have essentially gone unknown, held back by the gushing sea of similarly quirky indie-rock that’s become so concentrated recently that it’s simply difficult for them to really forge their own way to break through. At least now with a bit of buzz surrounding its early singles and the backing of By The Time It Gets Dark, the quickly-rising indie label that’s building up a stellar reputation by the day, sophomore album Blackout Cowboy could see Sunshine Frisbee Laserbeam’s path to success beginning to take shape, if only by virtue of curiosity from the name alone.
And judging by the actual material on Blackout Cowboy, that’s probably what will entice the most, as musically, Sunshine Frisbee Laserbeam could maybe afford to go a bit weirder and stand out more. That’s really the only black mark on their record though – overall, this is the sort of short, sharp indie-rock album with just enough of an off-kilter edge to make it a really likable listen – but in the limited space they’ve got, it can feel like Sunshine Frisbee Laserbeam aren’t making the most of their opportunities. It’s not a common enough occurrence to completely dissuade anyone from listening, but particularly near the end with tracks like Mrs JR Hartley and Mind Control, they can feel disappointingly anonymous, the sort of tracks that could’ve been made by any other indie-rock band with a penchant for Stateside fuzziness and a more ramshackle production style.
That’s not knocking the use overall though, because Sunshine Frisbee Laserbeam get it right, the results can have some truly turns that make them feel like so much more fun and clever than so many of their contemporaries. The big, bravado-pumped hook of Running From My Ghost is the sort of raucous way to kick an album off with its best foot forward, and with the twiddling intricacies of Meatloaf To The Camera’s guitars and the wry, snide jabs that make up most of MK Ultra, it’s the culmination of subtleties combined with a fairly brisk runtime that makes this such an easy album to like and sink into. And there’s still even further depth again, underscoring the sunny, effervescent melodies with the niggling issues that come from growing up, from the passage of time leading to friends being displaced from your life on Adult Memory Oww, to the stigma that surrounds mental health that leads to so many men taking their own lives because they wont talk about it on All The Way Over The Edge. The juxtaposition feels earned, and Sunshine Frisbee Laserbeam find a way to carry it with the necessary delicacy and care it needs.
It’s also the fact that they’re willing to take that route that lets Blackout Cowboy stand out in the way it does. It would’ve been nice for it to be a truly unique indie-rock album at a time when there’s so few of those around, but there’s still enough tactile energy and exploration for this to have its own platform to rest on regardless. Perhaps most importantly though, there’s no reason why this album won’t be the one give Sunshine Frisbee Laserbeam some wider attention; good songs and a snappy execution can do a lot in indie-rock, and if that previous coverage can carry on past release, that oh-so-memetic name won’t be the only reason you remember this band.
For fans of: Swearin’, Weezer, Drenge
Words by Luke Nuttall
‘Blackout Cowboy’ by Sunshine Frisbee Laserbeam is released on 9th November on By The Time It Gets Dark Records.