Album Review: Sunny Pompeii – Vinegar

I checked out Sunny Pompeii when I read that it was Spencer Schoening’s (drummer for Said the Whale) side project and I’m glad that I did. While it seemed a bit rough around the edges the first time I listened to it, Vinegar has definitely grown more and more on me with each listen. Vinegar marks the first full length LP from Sunny in Pompeii who previously released 3 EPs. 

The lo-fi sound fits the mood of the album, adding to the overall aesthetic rather than taking away from it. I also really enjoy the use of ambient sounds to add some atmosphere to certain songs. Album opener, “Better Half”, starts out with the sound of seagulls which definitely heightens the summer beach feeling of the track. Driving drums build up to guitar and the track takes off. “When will you come out of your stupor / You’re stupider than I thought that you were / Didn’t elude my games, were you always this way? / Wait a minute here, there’s something fishy going on.” Clearly it’s a bitter breakup song but you won’t initially realize it because the sound is so upbeat and catchy.

“Sleeplike” shows the moodier side of Sunny Pompeii, featuring some simple yet effective strings, organ, and even some flutes. It’s a great example of how a song can seem simple on the surface, until you dive into the different instrument layers and really start to explore. Needless to say, it’s quickly becoming one of my favorite tracks on the album. There are a couple of harder tracks on the album to even out the sunny bright and melancholy tracks. Dirty guitar riffs and echoing vocals make “Garbage Island” the grittiest track on the album. While it’s one of my least favorite tracks, it’s still a great way to showcase the range of sound that Sunny Pompeii has to offer.

“Leap Year” is another track made with summer in mind. With the simple acoustic guitars, infectious beat, and catchy lyrics, it’s the perfect anthem for riding with your windows down and singing at the top of your lungs, especially once it gets to the “oooh oooh ooohs” in the middle. “Rain Smell” closes out Vinegar quite nicely. The simple guitars along mixed with lyrics about lamenting lost love play perfectly together before the soft sound of rain falling closes out the album.

While the lo-fi sound might throw you off at first, I urge you to give this album a couple of listens. There really is a nice mixture of songs that I think can everyone can appreciate and it’s a great album for summer vacation whether you’re out at the beach or spending a nice, quiet afternoon at home.

Pick up Vinegar on Amazon, Bandcamp, and iTunes