Sunspeaker, soon to release their debut EP Person is Past, is the project of Columbia undergraduate Maurice Marion. “Anxiety Sunshine,” the first single off the EP, begins the same way that it ends: suddenly, with a gurgle and a whir. The song begins like a cosmic transmission (an apt move for a band with the name Sunspeaker), a song beamed and implanted via otherworldly synths and samples. These sounds circle the mix like stars around a character in a cartoonish knockout, and from this stellar mobile unfolds a dreamy pop tune. The first thud of the drums sets musical time in its reverberant sonic space, and the song moves forward, marching along the line between synthetic and sincere. The lyrics in the verse are fast, rhythmic, and regular, and therefore seem to exude practice or automation. The symmetry of the chord progression further compounds this sense of computation, perhaps even simulation, again pointing to the possibility of technologically-induced dream.
However, Marion’s voice tempers these suspicions, displaying a dynamic timbre that becomes rounded in its upper register; its organic quality shines through the track’s echoey treatment. The chorus provides assurance that this is a human work in the newfound warmth of the expanded chord progression and the comfortable half-time feel. The second verse seems to take the hallmarks of anxiety and spin them into musical devices. Just as one thought can give rise to a chain of worries, the initial drum fill going back into the verse mimics the melodic rhythm, the melody is surrounded by vocal layering and harmonies, and the guitar and synth continue to see-saw across the beat, echoing each other. Marion skillfully weaves the narrative of anxious “bother” into musical sunshine; subtle dissonances found in passing vocal harmonies, a lone scream, and funky synths complicate a major-key and simple-meter endeavor. The joyful outro evidences the transition of anxiety into excitement, and in a move akin to the workings of a drug, repurposes the feedback loop of anxiety for the proliferation of positivity.
Person is Past is set to be released this November.