“Sweetwater” by AV Super Sunshine
Making a record that qualifies as an honest alternative to the mainstream isn’t as easy as it used to be, but that didn’t stop AV Super Sunshine from doing exactly that in his new extended play, Sweetwater.
Built on the back of eerie melodies, a sharply defined mix that makes us feel as though we’re witnessing a live show instead of merely listening to a group of studio recordings and a singer in AV who is truly on the top of his game, Sweetwater pounces on us early on with its one-two punch of a title track and “Two Hearts (Guitar Rock Mix),” shreds away the stale riffing of the FM dial with “Smile (Guitar Rock Mix),” comes back at us with a more calculated turn in “Change” and folk-flavored swing in “Steel Bridge (Folk Rock Mix),” all before striking a heavy-hearted note with “August Child,” and in every instance, AV Super Sunshine outdoes himself with a compositional wit and wisdom that is unparalleled in this scene or any other that I’m watching at the moment.
As far as the production goes, Sweetwater is probably the most robust record that AV has attached his name to during his time in the spotlight, but it’s not at all plasticized as so many contemporary alternative albums have been recently. The strings bellow with a heavy rumble in “Two Hearts (Guitar Rock Mix),” pulsate next to the lyrical sense in “Steel Bridge (Folk Rock Mix)” while melodic ribbonry of another variant fills the background of “Change” with a comforting tonality that communicates the narrative of the track without ever stealing any of the spotlight away from the vocal, and it’s all because of the masterful handling of the mix. No specific element is competing for our attention in Sweetwater – everything here, from the minuscule to the mammoth, is designed to awaken our senses and make us feel whatever the players in AV Super Sunshine are feeling. There is no poppy pandering or trite filler to sort through in this record; only beefy musicality and endearing verses from a very creative source.
If Sweetwater is just a taste of what’s to come from AV Super Sunshine in the future, his ongoing ascent through the hierarchy of the alternative underground isn’t just something that we can expect: it’s something that we can count on. This is a fantastic sample-sized offering, but what we’re dealing with in these six songs goes into realms of experimentalism that I didn’t think we’d hear before the end of the 2020s. In the years that have gone by since his debut, this player has made a lot of curious audiences excited about what these latest releases could potentially contain, and I don’t know that loyal fans could have asked for anything more than what we’re getting in these six whimsical songs. AV Super Sunshine is going boldly into the future here, and taking all of us along with him whether we’re prepared for the action or not; I welcome his creativity with open arms.