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Album Review: Somewhere (2021) – Sun June

Prom isn’t all rosy and perfect. The songs show you the crying in the bathroom, the fear of dancing, the joy of a kiss– all the highs and all the lows.

Laura Colwell, Sun June

Austin-based indie outfit, Sun June’s sophomore album, Somewhere, is described by the band as a “prom” record. Channeling the essence of an “Albuquerque prom band,” Sun June delicately chronicles the messy evolution of love with their latest album. Think: highly potent adolescent angst, anxiety, adoration, excitement, regret and fear. Swaying under twinkling lights with carefully placed hands, awkwardly protruding limbs we’ve barely grown into, and a nervous bead of sweat dripping down our backs, Sun June takes us Somewhere.

Sun June photographed by Jade Hammer

Consisting of Laura Colwell (vocalist, lyricist), Stephen Salisbury (guitar, lyricist), Michael Bain, (lead guitar), Sarah Schultz (drums), and Justin Harris (bass), Sun June begins the album with “Bad with time.” The song sees Colwell petitioning a lover not to move away to LA. The track tips its hat to Neil Young’s “Unknown Legends” as she sings of riding Harley-Davidsons and the perceived personas we adopt as our own when desperation and expectation intertwine: “I am Jackie O / I am Patti Smith / When you wanted it.”

The album’s second track, “Everything I had” was described by Colwell as being “about feeling stuck and wishing you could go back in time.” Sun June has described their music as “regret pop,” and this track is no exception to that categorization: “Tongue-tied lightning / All that might have been / Throwing five in a cab / You and mе in the back.”

“Everything I had” is a slow-burning reminder that hindsight is always 20/20: “It misses when things were new and easy and full of promise,” the band shared in a press release. “It feels very ‘Austin’ to us, because things change here so quickly and it’s easy to fall into a rut and feel like the city is moving on without you. Friends are always leaving town too, so sometimes it’s fun to think moving to LA or New York would solve all our problems.”

The next track, “Singing” feels like a disoriented and groggy shake of the head after many long, silent hours spent trapped in the passenger seat. “‘Singing’ is our groundhog day song. It’s about being stuck in an old argument with your partner, wishing you both saw the world the same way,” Colwell stated. “Singing” isn’t an attempt to breathe life back into a relationship that is quickly deteriorating, but rather an exhausted relinquishment of energy.

The next track, “Bad girl” was inspired by “a deep manic drive to regress into the person I used to be — back when being bad was cool and being cool was everything,” Colwell stated. We, as humans, have a terrible tendency to grasp for any semblance of control when things begin to unravel. Sometimes that desperation manifests in acts of rebellion and recklessness: “It cycles through self-destructive choices I’ve made in relationships to avoid responsibility, and how my fear of loss has lead me down some dumb paths,” Colwell says. “The tone is sad and resigned, but also self-righteous somehow.”

“Everywhere,” the album’s zenith, maintains the wistful, solemn inflection of Somewhere, and alludes to feelings of shame: “And I made bad moves, baby / Back when I was happy.” The following track, “Once in a while,” piggy-backs on that same theme of regret: “I was drunk, I was lying / I can always take it farther / Moving just like my father.” Nostalgia-inducing, the track is riddled with a very special variety of remorse, the kind of remorse that’s enveloped in gratitude: “I’ve been to heaven / Once in a while in the moonlight / Once in a while when I’m up at night / Once in a while, it can be what you want it to be.”

“Prom isn’t all rosy and perfect,” the band said of the album’s inspiration. “The songs show you the crying in the bathroom, the fear of dancing, the joy of a kiss– all the highs and all the lows.” The heady, floaty lyricism of Somewhere is anchored by its lush instrumentals, which are steeped in hues of classic country blues. Listening to Somewhere feels akin to flipping through an old yearbook filled with images of ghosts– ghosts of past loves, lives and selves.

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