For this New Orleans-dwelling Belgian immigrant, living in the UK where a sunny day is an event to be celebrated seems a tough proposition. There appears to be two options: you can either wallow in the greyness and darkness, or you can simply pretend it's not there.
The latter seems to be the strategy of The Big Sun. Their new Sticklebacker EP is like, well, a burst of sunshine on a grey day. Melodies meander pleasingly over a bed of tasty beats and immaculate indie pop instrumentation, courtesy of ex-members of 90s stalwarts Candyskins and Ride. As a whole it’s reminiscent of 90s dreamy pop bands like The Cardigans. The songs are the brainchild of teenage singer-songwriter Berry, whose breezy girl-child vocals effortlessly float over the music, hitting soaring high notes with ease and confidence.
“Hanging On” is a great opener, a well-crafted pop song chugging away like a ride along a sunny country road. In delightful pop fashion, the arrangement builds steadily, adding layer upon layer of melodic goodness until you can't help but sway and hum along. I can see this song coming out of a transistor radio in the mod apartment of a bored suburban teenage girl dreaming of faraway places. Elsewhere “Time I Bought a Boat” sounds like a quintessential 90s indie pop song, with tremolo guitar, a Paul McCartney-ish bass line, tasteful touches of electronica and a particularly catchy guitar figure in the chorus. The lyrics speak of escape “setting out from England shore” but there's a sinister undertone. A song about suicide disguised as an upbeat ditty about escape? “Folly” is the darkest of the bunch, a song of revenge and betrayal, featuring Berry's wistful vocals over just a grungy guitar, joined at the end by a dramatic string quartet.
The Big Sun's sunny pop music has some dark undertones, but that only adds to the appeal of this very enjoyable and well-crafted EP.
Release: 16th November 2012, Balloon Twisted Records