Hearing Aide: Sun Parade’s ‘Shuggy Mtn Breakdown’

Relinquishing their debut full-length album to the world, Sun Parade successfully tugs at familiar emotions to send listeners on a 12-track sensory highway. Shuggy Mtn Breakdown boasts airy pop-rock blended with vibrant psychedelia that comes crashing down in waves. The 5-piece Northampton, MA outfit take you on a journey through self discovery with thematic commonalities all humans endure–love, life, questioning happiness and how to pursue it.

With infectious melodies and light-hearted vocals,  Chris Marlon Jennings (vocals, guitar), Jeff Lewis (vocals, guitar), Max Wareham (bass, vocals), Karl Helander (drums, vocals), and Eli Salus-Kleiner (keyboard) are able to instantly grab a listening ear through their radio-ready sound while remaining comfortably candid. Reminiscent of elements of the White Stripes’ prominent and punchy vocals, Tame Impala’s airy singing and the Black Keys‘ american rock tone, the indie, power-pop album was recorded in a one-room studio on the 4th floor of an old industrial Brooklyn building. It’s no surprise that Rubblebucket’s own Ian Hersey sat in the producer’s chair to extend a helping hand and trained ear.

The whimsical opening track of “Sleep Alone” warmly welcomes listeners into a dream-pop state of mind before launching into the cheeky “Cheer Up,” which does just as its title implies with both tempo and mood simultaneously picking up. Distorted noise and spoken word vocals shine on “Steal My Thunder” while “Game Boy” brings forth an extremely relatable message, embracing hooks and easy-to follow lyrics.

A relaxed and slowed down “Braindrain” flips a genre switch as it walks away from the bubblegum sound and introduces a more delicate, soul-leaning attitude, complete with mesmerizing synth sounds and whistle-along tangents. The hard hitting and emotional rock track “Psycho” follows with wailing vocals and gritty grunge guitar breakdowns you didn’t see coming but can’t imagine the album without. “Shuggy Mtn” holds its own as the album’s party anthem. The namesake song dives into sonic exploration and punk tendencies by blending psychedelic rock elements with wailing vocals and hard hitting on the drum kit.

The second to last track on the album, “Echoes of My Heart,” softens the tone and slows the release’s pulse with a quick, dreamy interlude before “Tear (Can’t Stop Believing),” wraps Sun Parade‘s initial release and circles back to the album’s blunt storytelling and hopeful tone.

Through airy vocals and melodic exploration, the quintet proved they aren’t afraid to have fun and dip their toes in a pool of myriad genres while getting emotionally raw with their audience. Shuggy Mtn Breakdown aims to be timeless, allowing their hopeful and tender lyrics to appropriately contrast and offset its darker rock and roll musical elements.

Touring in support of their release, Sun Parade will storm through Rochester’s Bug Jar on Dec. 10 just ahead of Swordpaw on Dec. 15. Listen to Shuggy Mtn Breakdown in it’s entirety below:

Key Tracks:  “Steal My Thunder,” “Braindrain,” “Psycho”

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