Album review: Sunnyboys | 40

The phoenix-like resurrection of 80’s melodic garage exponents Sunnyboys, coinciding with the salvation of the band’s guitarist and songwriter Jeremy Oxley, is one of the more heart-warming tales of redemption in the annals of Australian music.

Oxley getting his life back on track in the most serendipitous of circumstances was the catalyst for the band resurfacing on the live music scene a few years back, playing ever-more rapturously received shows, as though their early 80’s heyday was a thing of now and not then. The band’s perfect amalgamation of joyous garage pop chords married to introspective lyrics remains their calling card, and few bands anywhere do it better.

For this release we get, for the first time since its original release at the dawn of the 80s, remastered versions of songs from the band’s legendary debut EP (aka the ‘Yellow’ EP). These four songs, including long-time fan favourites ‘What You Need’, ‘The Seeker’ and ‘Love to Rule’, are punchy, 60s channelling power pop nuggets par excellence, resplendent with youthful vigour and sharply honed energy. And then there’s ‘that’ song, the much imitated but never bettered ‘Alone With You’, in its original single version, a little more punchy, edgy, backing vocals a bit more to the forefront and less polished for radio – some would say the definitive version of a career defining track.

The remaining four songs on the album cherry pick tracks from across Jeremy Oxley’s musical journey and re-work them to a more satisfactory conclusion in the eyes of the band. ‘Can’t You Stop’, originally recorded by Oxley’s short-lived post Sunnyboys outfit ‘The Fishermen’, in 1986, is a solid state, mid paced rocker. While ‘Lovers’ (On Another Planet’s Hell), which originally appeared on The Sunnyboys third album, ‘Get Some Fun’, gets a new back-beat and an injection of keyboards and brass. Meanwhile ‘Strange Cohesion’, originally circa 1984, appears for the first time in studio recorded format, pointing to a slightly more soulful direction with its keyboard and brass embellishment, while not sacrificing the band’s rollicking rock pedigree. While final number, ‘Way After Five’ is an early 90s Oxley solo number built on a bedrock of acoustic guitar and piano, his vocals somewhat more weather-beaten in delivering the trademark Sunnyboys light and shade. Fans both new and old will find much to reverentially latch onto within the redemptive grooves of ’40’. Go see ‘em when they tour, as their live game is also still as good as their studio groove.

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