REVIEW: Sunbeam Sound Machine

Live Review: Sunbeam Sound Machine @ Black Bear Lodge, 09.01.15

There may be no such thing as a free lunch, but one of life’s most indulgent little pleasures is the much more rewarding free gig. Melbourne’s Sunbeam Sound Machine (born Nick Sowersby) treated Brisbanites to a dreamy night out at Black Bear Lodge that was a treat for the ears, the soul, and the wallet.

The Australian music scene is notoriously tight-knit, intertwined, and supportive. Bands sing each other’s praises, listen to each other’s records, and, as evidenced at Sowersby’s outstanding Brisbane debut, they turn up to each other’s shows. The Delta Riggs were in attendance – that, or this reviewer needs glasses and a select group of punters all need a haircut – and so was at least one member of local indie-pop outfit Cub Sport.
It was easy to see why. Support act The Good Sports delivered some honest to god vibes to the crowd via their brand of amiable surf rock, setting a very chilled out tone for the evening. Sunbeam’s lush set felt like an electrified update on the coastal indie themes that populated the much-beloved OC soundtrack – carelessly flawless vocals, ubiquitous reverb, wavy travelling beats. Sowersby and co were poppy without being sugary or contrived; spanning a range of influences from Cold War Kids-esque vocal whines and Oriental synths to intergalactic laser sounds and underwater dissonance.

There’s a dearth of bedroom producers popping up all over the country at the moment, but Sunbeam Sound Machine differs from his peers in that he creates auditory experiences that are introspective, not necessarily dancey, and so laid back they’re lying down, but undeniably intricate. He’s a contemporary of Ariel Pink in appearance and in sensibility, navigating the intersections between muffled laziness (thanks to low vocals and a high bass mix) and reflective complexity. Standing right near the front of the stage, there was so much going on that my ears didn’t know quite where to focus and my hearing certainly suffered for it the next day – but there’s absolutely no question as to whether it was worth it.

Nick Sowersby hasn’t made his way to the Gold Coast yet and doesn’t appear to have immediate plans to – so get his earworms in your head via his Soundcloud and cross every finger and toe that he makes the trip soon.

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