Remember the worldwide success of that animated short called “Dumb ways to die“? Well, there is no doubt that the song included in the short was an important part of the video. The world watched and sang along to the borderline indie, mellow pop melody that accompanied an adorably dark video.
Now imagine a complete album of just that song by Andy Stack and Melissa Ahern, also known as She & The Sun. Melissa’s very sweet voice over layers of unexpected instrumentation and tired melodies that have difficulty keeping any attention.
The musical history of She & The Sun goes back to college, where Andy and Melissa started taking music seriously, recording demos and knocking on doors, trying to get a spot in the ever-expanding music industry. Even still, the music of She & The Sun would be hard to categorize, it is not precisely folk, nor country, but the use of acoustic guitars and other elements could get them a spot in that genre. They don’t sound very much like indie either, though they are using some unexpected instruments in the arrangements of songs such as “Instant Gratification”. Their sound contains a very rare component of familiarity though that might be because every song in the album could have been part of a Dawson’s Creek Soundtrack.
But don’t misunderstand me here, She & The Sun is a very nice debut album, with very enjoyable songs, almost impossible to categorize and suitable for almost anyone’s music library. The downside of the album is that there is no promise of a next big thing, the sound of the band is predictable, and you can have a very clear idea of what a second album would sound like just by listening the first song of this album.
As the songs progress, Melissa and Andy share vocal duties, neither making an actual impact. There is no clear storytelling here, the whole record is like driving on a plain highway with a few surprises here and there, such as “Bad Lover,” which features a richer composition than any other of the songs, using different rhythms and harmonies, with an almost impalpable touch of electronica. “While You’re Young” introduces Stack’s voice and evokes Fleet Foxes in the very first few seconds. “Mountains” is a six and a half minute song that had very clear intentions of being a stand-out of the album, gaining attention precariously. “Turtle Dove” closes the album, the most country-oriented piece in the record, and actually sounds like a farewell after a long road-trip through desert highways.
In She & The Sun‘s debut album, you can hear a very shy duo that’s taking small steps in days when other bands are taking risks. Melissa and Andy deliver good songs that do not incorporate any intriguing elements in their music, nor in the lyrics, and hardly ever in their arrangements. If you’re up for pretty, sweet voices and having a record to play before you go to bed, this will do. If you’re more interested in a more dynamic approach, this album might let you down a little. Nevertheless judge for yourself and listen to the whole album below.