The hum of a melody flows from the title cut and stagers into “Two Hearts (Guitar Rock Mix),” the opening tracks from AV Super Sunshine’s new extended play Sweetwater, and together clear a path for a vocal from AV that instantly sets the tone for everything that is about to happen in the next few tracks with a near-whispered crooning that is as chilling as the first winds of winter. The rhythm of the song ebbs and flows, the strings spinning like a sorcerer’s pinwheel, and without any warning, they give in to the cutting harmony of “Smile (Guitar Rock Mix),” a track that, despite not moving a whole lot faster than “Two Hearts (Guitar Rock Mix)” does, is as agile in the delivery of its lyrics as it is suffocating in its melody.
Though the grind of “Smile (Guitar Rock Mix)” is almost more intense an element than the vocals are, the opposite can be said of “Change,” a song that is perhaps the softest in texture of any on Sweetwater. The strings are silky, and the singing somehow matches their tone perfectly, blending into the colorful melody they create so seamlessly that it’s as though they’re coming from one being instead of multiple instruments played by multiple musicians. The chemistry that AV Super Sunshine’s unit is demonstrating in this record is worth writing home about this winter, but I had a feeling that, based on their impressive reputation alone, this was going to be the case with Sweetwater.
“Steel Bridge (Folk Rock Mix)” is the lyrical epiphany that I’ve been waiting for AV Super Sunshine to record for a while now, and though it packs the biggest melodic punch here, it doesn’t seem out of place in the tracklist at all. It leads us into the stoic “August Child” with a sterling rhythm that doesn’t prevent the conclusion of the EP from stinging us with its emotional serenade at all – instead, it amplifies the finale. I don’t know how long AV had been sitting on these compositions before he finally decided to bring them to the studio for recording, but at any rate, they sound like the result of years, not months, of refinement that has at long last, produced an extended play which is more affecting than any LP I’ve heard in 2024.
AV takes Sweetwater into the ethers from which it first arose in the last few melodic notes of “August Child,” and when he’s finished singing we’re allowed a moment to absorb everything that he’s just expressed to us in the last six songs, we can appreciate the scope of what AV Super Sunshine has become in this latest record. January has been filled with commentary about new music from across the mainstream, but if it’s quality indie beats that you’re after, Sweetwater is among the few EPs that I can verify as being listenable again and again. It unfolds a little more with every examination, as all quality music should but so rarely does these days.