Sunshine & Technology is the much anticipated album to The Smith Street Band’s 2011 debut No One Gets Lost Anymore and arguably lives up to the hype that frontman Wil Wagner and co have managed to build for themselves.
Essentially a folk-punk soundtrack for the trials and tribulations of twenty-something mediocrity, Sunshine & Technology provides anthem after anthem for those who chose to drink their problems and seek comfort in the company of music and like-minded friends. The tone for the album maintains a sense of bittersweet melancholy, capturing the notion that the entire world is going to hell and the only chance for survival is to wear your heart on your sleeve, adapt to apathy and ultimately just get utterly wasted and party hard. And why not, when that idea is sold so well here in Sunshine & Technology.
Wagner’s raw and commanding vocals are perfectly pronounced in the thick Australian drawl that the band has become known for and each song reads like entries torn directly from his private journal. The intimate and sincere lyrics expertly manage to avoid being whiny or self-indulgent thanks to the bands contagious indie-pop beats combined with gritty punk riffs and insanely catchy gang vocals. While all this might sound like post-emo wank, it couldn’t be further from it – The Smith Street Band are powerful, fun and full of energy.
If folky pop-punk anthems aren’t your thing then there’s not much for you here, as despite the accolades to this album variety isn’t necessarily Sunshine & Technogy’s forte. While each song is as strong as the last, the only real downside is that there is no great build up, no contrast and the album simply flows along comfortably at (albeit enjoyably) the same pace. By the last third of the album there is a bit of a feeling of been-there-done-that which weighs down the buzz previously felt during the first few songs.
Ultimately, Australia has something to be proud of in The Smith Street Band with not many comparable sounds around, and Sunshine & Technology is destined to be a summer favourite for fans of Against Me!, Defiance, Ohio and The Weakerthans. This is the kind of album that instantly takes you to a memory of hot summer nights spent at sweaty gigs, beer in one hand and your pals by your side, and any album that has the power to create those emotions is a winner in my books.
Review Score: 8.5 out of 10.