Tuesday, June 13, 2017

Pitstop: Sunbathe

photo by Todd Walberg
No disrespect meant to her longtime bandmate/songwriting partner Stephen Leisy but Genders' Maggie Morris distinct vocals have been one of my favorite elements of the band's continuous evolution. From the gauzy beach pop of Youth to their more psychedelic efforts as Genders and even their more shoegaze-oriented turn, Morris' emotive vocals have provided an excellent buoy in Genders' instrumental deluge. Much like fellow Portland friends Typhoon led to my discovery of Youth/Genders, it was only through them that I even knew Morris had begun her solo project Sunbathe. Enlisting Typhoon's Pieter Hilton on drums, Shannon Rose Steele on violin, and Devin Gallagher on tambourine, Morris' efforts as Sunbathe highlight just how masterful Morris' ability to pair heavy rock riffs with emotion-stirring vocals and memorable melodies. Though the lead track "Can't Find It" off her recently released debut reminded me of an alternate edit of "Never Belonged To You", much of Sunbathe exists in its own realm of similar but not congruent rock pop.

"With A Little Help" is a high point of the album featuring Morris at her brightest, most vibrant and taking what could be a radio-friendly pop effort and elongating its moments of small-scale magnificence. Though Morris has demonstrate a diverse range of songwriting subjects in the past/across other efforts, as Sunbathe, she sticks to basics: Sunbathe is an album filled with songs of love and heartbreak and where Morris really shines is in her ability to conflate the two. Morris' strengths have always lay in her pursuit of real, sincere emotions and real, earnest reactions and Sunbathe makes the most of that while also featuring incredible moments of tonal place-setting. Sunbathe is like a progression through the stages of grief, starting off breezy and sun-kissed and eventually ending up fully entrenched in darker textures and blistering riffs.

Sunbathe, the debut album from Maggie Morris' new solo effort Sunbathe is out now and available on digital, vinyl, or cassette.

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