Sun Airway – Soft Fall
When Sun Airway came out with their debut, Nocturne of Exploded Crystal Chandelier, two years ago, it was hard to project the longevity of such electronic laden music. With its never-ending loops of distortion and synthesized beats, I was convinced that this would be a one-and-done band; it would be hard for future releases to match the freshness that the first release possessed. Luckily, Soft Fall denounces such an assumption.
My first inclination that this sophomore release would be just as special as its predecessor came when I first heard the single “Wild Palms.” At three minutes and forty-three seconds, it does a pretty good job of giving you a little taste of everything that Sun Airway does well and making you crave even more. It opens with an infectious beat that dominates the soundscape and some electronic orchestral sounds. The distorted, echoed and simultaneously here-and-there vocals of Jon Barthmus quickly make their appearance to hypnotize you with their irresistible serenity amidst the chaotic atmospheric sounds happening behind them.
In the album this single comes a little before the halfway point of Soft Fall, serving as a nice standout track, but by no means is it the only hit this Philadelphia duo has in store for you. Before you reach this number, they hit you with “Close,” that introduces you into the quickened pace that is apparent through the whole album. After the midpoint of the record, you also have other contagiously good numbers like “Symphony in White No.2,” which is sure to have you dancing along. Though the pace is noticeably faster on this album, you also have slower jams like “Laketop Swimmers” and the title track “Soft Fall” that serve as deeper cuts like “Shared Piano” from the prior release.
While it is every bit as infectious as Nocturne of Exploded Crystal Chandelier, it is a smidge less listenable and leaning on the lazy side of things when it comes to variation, specifically in the lyrics department. Yes, this band is producing electronic music that focuses on the beats and filling sounds produced, but what I really enjoy about this band is their ability to keep the music down on a human level with their lyrics. In some instances, the words are repeated so much that it detracts from the aesthetic of the song and leaves me bored.
Such instances are few, leaving Soft Fall to be exactly what its title proclaims it to be and in more than one way. Yes, it is a gentle step down from the beauty of this band’s first work, but it is also the sort of record that you can listen to distance yourself from a long day and fall softly upon something a little more magical.