On the first EP out of the Sunglasses camp in two years, the Brooklyn duo has assembled two new tracks, a remix, a demo, and someone else covering them. On the Namesake/Swim EP, Sunglasses (who have fittingly supported Black Moth Super Rainbow head honcho Tobacco in the past) mash together disparate genres like they’re fiddling with the knobs on some sort of era-spanning car radio, hoping to mine some gold out of the results. While the two original tracks on the cassette’s amped psychedelia are worth a listen, the rest of the material seems like filler in anticipation of something a little bit longer.
In the seven minutes of opening track “Swim”, Samuel Cooper and Brady Keehn spin around like sugar-fueled toddlers, fixating on whatever seems to catch their eyes in brief flashes of attention span. Churning, lurching loops open the song like an ethereal, gauzy Dan Deacon track, but the shuddering, multi-layered rhythm and chanted vocals that follow fall more in line with Animal Collective. The pitch-shifted harmony vocals touch up the outstanding track’s dance-y, eerie, and airy elements, and the spacy, open outro relieves the tension built in the multi-layered madness. The Julian Wasser remix slows everything down, takes out most of the layers, and aims unfortunately for an epic techno tone that doesn’t quite go the distance.
The other half of the title, “Namesake”, opens with equal parts waterfall piano and synth stabs, eventually building to a surprisingly straightforward riff-y guitar wash. The clanks and whirs that seem to pervade the track counteract the slow groove of the vocals, making for a powerful combination of the expected and the unusual. The lo-fi cover contributed by Marshall Trotter (with its harmonica, slow-wrung acoustic guitar, and off-kilter harmonies) sounds like something off of a disco ballad-inflected Built to Spill record (but played through a karaoke system), and the “Cassette Tape Demo” of “Namesake” finds the piano working on its own with the vocals, the song surprisingly working despite the lack of the duo’s signature layering. That said, two tracks and a tossed-off handful more is a strong start, but not enough to satisfy many listeners for very long.
Essential Track: “Swim”