by Katie Hanford
Philadelphia’s own “dream punks” Sun Organ get darker and sludgier on their third release, People In The Distance In The Dark. With contemporaries like The Spirit of the Beehive, Mannequin Pussy, and Blue Smiley, it takes a special blend of dark gaziness to bring something new to this burgeoning Philadelphia scene. Following up their 2015 release Wooden Brain, Sun Organ make it happen, proving their worth with an album that is simultaneously sun-drenched and nightmarish. While their highs are bright and consistent, invoking memories of dreamscapes they began creating on Wooden Brain, their lows are eerie and slow, proving they can make a variety of tempos and vibes work within their dream punk world.
Beginning with “Rocky Mountains High,” a noisy party anthem that recalls the euphoria experienced on the first day of summer, People In The Distance In The Dark’s light-hearted moments are as cheery as they are warped. “Tucson Vibe ‘95,” although upbeat and funky in its musicality, provides a somber message in its lyrics, with a voiceover discussing how once great things are now all messed up. This sentiment pervades the album’s energy: often featuring an almost constant background distortion, their shoegaze influence comes out strong through layers of brightly behaving guitar melodies performed over the noise-fest seeping into a track’s foundation. The magic of this process is particularly dazzling in the clarity that is created: simultaneously messy and crisp, light and dark, mesmerizing and abrupt.
What sets People In The Distance In The Dark apart from the rest of Sun Organ’s catalogue is their slower, darker moments. Tracks like “Decay” and “Woe 2” prove their aptitude for painting spaced-out dreamscapes, lullaby-esque melodies that drip with nostalgia for dreams you’ve never actually had. These moments occur few and far between when compared to their faster-paced tracks, but prove that they have a depth that should not be overlooked. Although Sun Organ’s particular brand of fuzzy dream punk is contributing to a larger, already established scene, People In The Distance In The Dark gives a glimpse into Sun Organ’s moodier visions, ultimately setting them apart from the rest of Philly’s dreamers.