March 31, 2004

Sunshine "necromancer"

A friend of mine was going through my CD's and he came across this reissue of Sunshine's Necromance.
He looked at it for a moment.

"What does it sound like?" he asked.

"Like a Eastern European version of At the Drive-In."

Though I came across as being funny, I spoke the truth. Sunshine, who hail from the Czech Republic, do sound an awful lot like At the Drive-In, but with a few more European influences, such as Joy Division and Belgium-based industrial rock. In fact, the indie world's first taste of Sunshine--myself included--was due to At the Drive-In. The two bands released a wonderful (and well worth seeking out) split 12" record that was pressed on clear purple vinyl, and, if I'm not mistaken, the two bands toured together a time or two. So, it's not unfair to compare the two bands.

It would, however, be extremely unfair to simply dismiss Sunshine as another At the Drive-In knock-off, because they aren't. While many of the dynamics are the same, and it's clear that they occasionally share influences, Sunshine have a much darker, dance-oriented vibe that ATDI never really touched. Listening to Sunshine, their second album, issued in 2001 and reissued late last year by GSL, I'm simply amazed by how great these guys are. The reissue cleans up the sound a little bit and tacks on four song from a GSL remix twelve-inch EP.

It's easy to understand why this record was reissued, because the band sounds great, and Necromance is an impressive little record. Stylewise, Sunshine cover a lot of ground, but they do so in a way that doesn't smother the music. From the brooding "Last Your Day" to the depressing "Daydreams about White Lines," the punk-rock crunch of "The Vertigo" and the Primal Scream-esque "Punk and Chic," Necromance is a dark, heavy record that's surprisingly melodic and oddly poppy. The four mixes of "Astral Love" show that these guys could do the dance-punk thing if they wanted to, and they'd do it well.

It's a bit sad to know that their exotic location has probably been their greatest hindrance. Had they come from England or America, they would easily be up there on the 'next big thing' list and probably would have been big upon the release of Necromance. Their Eastern European location has probably regulated Sunshine to a third-world novelty act, to be looked at as a band that's simply imitiating American indie-rock. Apparently they've signed to a major and have a new record coming out soon, and that's good to hear. Necromance wasn't the success it should have been at the time, but who knows what the future will bring? As Necromance proves, at least Sunshine deserve any success that comes their way.

--Joseph Kyle

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