Sunshine & the Rain | In the Darkness of My Night (Ernest Jenning)

This is the kind of album that should be listened to on a sunny day in the car with the windows down, sunglasses on, and volume turned all the way up.

One of the welcome aspects of heavier music in recent years has been the participation of women in the scene. While it would be foolish to say women have never been involved, there now seems to be more acceptance without having to masculinize their personas. Take, for instance, Canadian rocker Nicole Dollanganger, whose brand of heavy music (notably live) uses her beautiful, unapologetically feminine voice over layers and textures of fuzzy and epic guitars, with a visual aesthetic that includes a traditionally feminine wardrobe. In the past, this would’ve been looked down upon and mocked by fans of heavy music. Also consider Jessica Lea Mayfield’s last solo outing Make My Head Sing, which featured her beautiful, reverb-washed voice over chugging guitars and a pink color palette.

In comes husband-and-wife garage pop/punk duo Sunshine & the Rain, with their mod aesthetic and retro tinged jams. Their debut album In The Darkness of My Night is 10 stellar, garage-punk–inspired songs with throwback vibes to ’60s pop music. The overall effect feels both vintage and modern. While garage rock bands have existed forever, the results on this album feel fresh given the fact front woman Ashley Anderson Morey, the wife half of the band to husband Justin Angelo Morey, doesn’t masculinize her persona to be one of the boys; rather, she stands her ground confidently in her vocal performance and delivery. One of the elements that makes the chemistry of Sunshine & the Rain work so well is their meshing and balance of the feminine and masculine. While vocally, the work leans feminine, instrumentally the compositions lean masculine; however, neither overpowers the other but become complementary to one another.

Also worth nothing is that for an album that sonically takes after garage music, there’s an incredible amount of dynamic vocal production. Rather than just straight-up abrasiveness or the same tone all the way through, sometimes the vocals are washed with reverb, and other times distorted. However, some of the boldest moments are on the tracks “So Far So Close” and “In a Dream,” where Ashley’s vocals sound almost dry, close and upfront to the listener. These dynamic changes in just the vocals alone keep the album engrossing and interesting throughout. While other female-fronted indie bands inspired by garage music might’ve had trouble keeping dynamic range throughout an album (for example, An Horse, the Kills, and early Sleigh Bells), Sunshine & the Rain seemingly have mastered it with ease.

The instrumental compositions throughout In The Darkness of My Night also find a good balance between abrasive and accessible. While fuzz and noise are present throughout the entire album, the Moreys able to complement it with other factors, as well as scale the noise back and forth. The couple’s love hooks help, and they seem to know how to use their sound in more than one way. They thankfully never reach the sometimes headaching tendencies of, say, the White Stripes or the Dead Weather, but they feel more real and genuine than those projects, with a lot less effort.

Previously released single “Can’t Stop Thinking about You” also gets a new life on this album. Most of the times bands try to revitalize an old song with a new recording, the results fall flat and feel lesser in comparison to the original. Not so here. While the original featured big distorted guitars with bombastic drums, this version sees the guitars more on the side, but more creatively composed. There’s a giant fuzzy bass leading the track here, along with slightly subdued drums and lo-fi organ tones. This version overall feels more thought out and actually outdoes the already top-notch original track.

Overall, with the summer months coming up, this is the perfect time for Sunshine & the Rain to drop their debut. Despite the seemingly ominous title of “In the Darkness of My Night,” this is the kind of album that should be listened to on a sunny day in the car with the windows down, sunglasses on, and volume turned all the way up. A+ | Michael Cheng

Key tracks: “Little Rag Doll,” “So Far So Close,” “Going the Wrong Way,” “Can’t Stop Thinking about You”

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