Cincinnati band Sungaze invite you into a serene, previously hidden escape on their debut album Light in All of It, out July 19. The shoegaze-y music feels like a gentle reckoning with deeply based emotional reservoirs. There’s a lot of power riding behind these songs, but at no point do they feel particularly overwhelming any one direction. Instead, the new Sungaze album feels like an experience to step into wherein your previously constricting mental and emotional trappings can fall away and make room for an empowering freedom. There’s a definite sense of grandeur hinted at in the album — in other words, there’s glittering, bustling activity in this musical escape you’ve stepped into — but for the album’s essentially entire run time, you’re in the driver’s seat and the main attraction. When pressing play, it’s time to pull out the old plans you’d left hidden for too long and dust them off in preparation to get going.
The music soundtracking this mental experience really feels almost hypnotic at times. It packs a captivating but dreamy power — like a tamed lion you can sit with peacefully as opposed to fear. The band veer in and out of even focusing on lyrics at all, and the first two tracks on their new album don’t have a single word. This feature further elevates the personal experience with subtly epic freedom available with this record and the power of the music itself. To use another metaphor, the songs feel like they lay across your shoulders like a warm blanket when you had nowhere to go and were stuck outside in the dead of winter. It’s time to warm up and get going.
Further allowing this empowering experience, there’s no feeling of filler on this album. The band tread the line remarkably well of providing a hazy soundscape and something that neither a listener nor themselves will get lost in. There’s a focus — melody pierces the musical clouds, and the “point” of the music offering a sense of emotional freedom comes in clearly. Practically speaking, the band offer a wide buffet of sound, from guitar-driven passages to a memorable, somewhat nostalgic-feeling synth part on the track “This River.” What feels like a key point emerges when on “New Familiar,” the band offer the simple and direct lyric: “Don’t look back.” That aim can be difficult, but it’s at least a little smoother thanks to Sungaze and Light in All of It.
Check out “New Familiar” off the album below.