Review: Lunar Vacation Brings New Boldness in "Artificial Flavors"
The passivity of their previous EP “Swell” gives way to new boldness in Artificial Flavors- from the brighter colored album cover, with defined lines and surrealistic subject matter, to the music itself, which contains jabbing commentary in the lyrics as well as a new, more electronic sound and sampling.
The EP begins with a sampled-in, purposefully cheesy ad that seems to be from an earlier time- when processed words and images were at the height of popularity. “Junior spaceman with an out of this world flavor and energy- what a treat! And now- blastoff!” echoes into space as the waning hope and enthusiasm of the first song “Daytime” begins. As the EP progresses this enthusiasm dies and the more dissatisfied the subject becomes with the world around her, ending with “It’s too late, Colin” , a song in which the lyricist finally notes it all a “disappointing” and “colossal waste of time.”
From beginning to end the EP's narrative-like structure takes you through the Jekyll and Hyde of the day versus nightlife of a high schooler in a way that’s reminiscent of F. Scott Fitzgerald’s “The Great Gatsby", though instead of sky rises in New York City, you find yourself in the basements of suburbia. In a story that is timeless in nature, Lunar Vacation captures the feeling of being within and without of the ‘in -crowd’ simultaneously while trying to earn the love of someone inside it, all the while including references to local Atlanta scenes, house parties and social media, making it timely as well.
The story would not be complete, though, without the perfect setting, which is created through the use of contrast. While Grace’s vocals remain as ethereal as ever, and John Michael and Connor’s beats steady, Matteo takes more of the stage on the keys and Maggie’s guitar playing takes on a more upbeat role, changing the tune from the beachside ensemble of Swell to a late night arcade. Lunar Vacation has created a digital world for the vocals, and the subject, to seem just enough out of place to drive the theme without sacrificing their synchronicity.
All around, in Artificial Flavors, Lunar Vacation has achieved the ultimate feat that comes with new music: changing enough to add interest without compromising originality. They have maintained their dazy, surf-punk vibe that makes them so unique while new elements merely enhance what was already there.
It should also be noted that the new is just one of many new accomplishments by the growing band. With every category of merch on their website sold-out and nearly 78,000 listeners on Spotify, one can only imagine that soon these astronauts will lift up and out of the local scene that gave them their wings. The band members maintain a regular presence on all their social media accounts (Facebook, Twitter & Instagram) and have smartly used their summer break to physically bring their talent to other cities across the eastern U.S. They are currently on tour promoting Artificial FLavors and their next show is tomorrow, July 31, at Subterranean Downstairs in Chicago, IL. The rest of the tour dates are listed on their website, as well as a show coming up for local fans at the Drunken Unicorn on September 14. So, whether you’re local or out-of-state, check out their new material and possibly a concert near you!