It says a lot when a band who once had something of a significant profile releases an album that barely anyone knows even exists, but that seems to be where Sunset Sons currently are. They were never the biggest band around, even during their heyday, but as one of the many pushed into the indie spotlight around 2016 with a fairly modest debut Very Rarely Say Die (as well as a pretty great little single in She Wants), to see them fall in almost total obscurity at this stage feels like an abject pinnacle of where the traditional indie boom-and-bust cycle can reach. And beyond what will inevitably be a severely diminished return, there’s really no expectation for Blood Rush Déjà Vu; Sunset Sons have been that far out of the spotlight that virtually anything could’ve happened to them at this point, and the fact that this album has come with literally no fanfare doesn’t suggest that it’s anything all that good.
But really, it’s not a case of Blood Rush Déjà Vu not being good, but more that it feels so inessential. While Sunset Sons have always lacked what could be seen as a defining quality that’s theirs and theirs alone, yet have managed to prevail despite it, there’s a general disinterest within this album that turns Blood Rush Déjà Vu into a real slog to get through. It’s not necessarily unlistenable thanks to an inherent lightweight appeal that comes from Sunset Sons as a band, but between how huge chunks simply refuse to stick in any capacity, and how little the band themselves seem preoccupied with progressing in any way, the lack of much worth paying attention to feels like the most damning indictment on how heavily a loss in momentum can hit.
But on the whole, Blood Rush Déjà Vu is just so uneventful as an album that it’s difficult to know what to really say. From an instrumental and production standpoint, Sunset Sons have sunk themselves deeply into the modern indie school of thought, with clean expanse taking pride of place on Superman and a generally undercooked crop of guitar jangles on Say Hi and Take Control that easily slide into the laidback surfer aesthetic the band have carved for themselves, but tip into laziness more uncomfortably than most would want. Indeed, that’s true for a lot of this album, with very little flavour to accent what effectively feels like indie-rock basics that, on tracks like Eyes Wide Open and Heroes, can occasionally fashion themselves into more uptempo rollicks with a bit more going on within them. Rory Williams’ vocals at least have a decent amount of personality too, returning to the well of a brash, almost unchained version of Kings Of Leon’s Caleb Followill, but it’s not like there’s much room to make the most of it, with the washed-out Imagine Dragons-isms of Superman or the tepid buildup-with-no-payoff of Favourite Mistake.
It’s more boring than anything else, smacking of a mandated release put out just to get something into the world, with writing that couldn’t make that seem any more true. Again, Sunset Sons have never been ultra-talented wordsmiths, but Blood Rush Déjà Vu is more than happy to trundle along with basic songwriting frameworks as long as they can eke out as passable melody. Sure, that’s the case with the likes of Say Hi and Eyes Wide Open, but there’s only so many approximations of the same relationship songs that can really be stood, or attempts at coming across as ‘personal’ that really only sounds contrived at this point. There’s nothing all that egregious here, and for an album as low-key and low-stakes as this, they work fine enough on a conceptual level, but for a band like Sunset Sons who’ve only slid further out of the spotlight with each passing year, this isn’t the sort of thing that’s going to get them back there.
Even right now, Blood Rush Déjà Vu has already failed if that was the intention; no one knows this thing has even been released, and after listening to it, it’s the sort of thing that slides out of memory the very second it’s over. It’s not like Sunset Sons are an awful band either, but there’s clearly been so little effort that’s gone into making this a good album that it doesn’t even feel worth what has gone into it, instead being an inert, uninspiring chore to listen to, even if at only nine tracks long, the band themselves even want to make this as quick and painless as possible. But after this, it’s not like Sunset Sons are going to be given another chance to move forward; this has already done so little for them that trying again simply doesn’t feel worth it at this stage.
For fans of: Kings Of Leon, Switchfoot, Imagine Dragons
Words by Luke Nuttall
‘Blood Rush Déjà Vu’ by Sunset Sons is out now on Bad Influence Records.