Sonna – We Sing Loud Sing Soft Tonight

We Sing Loud Sing Soft Tonight

I knew of Sonna from various split 7″s that I stumbled across now and then and a track or two on a compilation. Always before the band played pretty and complex instrumentals. Here, the band’s debut full-length despite playing together since 1998, they continue featuring primarily instrumentals, but there are a few fleshed out tracks with vocals on this release, and thus I’m left with a much more well-rounded picture of who exactly Sonna are.
Like some of the other instrumental-minded bands that came before them – Tristeza, Pele, Paul Newman, to name a few – Sonna play a restrained yet complicated blend of melodic indie rock. While the drums are by no means simple or boring, the real focus here is the guitar work. The guitars are so immaculately crisp and pure that these songs practically shimmer, which is the real beauty of Sonna. Quite often, the guitarists are playing in different time signatures simultaneously, showing off the talent of this band by maintaining a consistent flow. And when the vocals do come in, they’re pulled off remarkably well.
“The Opener” starts at 9 minutes and more closely resembles a laid-back Pele song, with some of the most wonderful crisp guitars. It’s a quiet song, suitably the album’s opener, and it kicks off a restrained, subtle flow to the album. We pick up the pace a bit for “Low and to the Side,” which resembles a less-sparse Low song in the nice, quiet rhythm and subtle melodies between piano and guitar. By the end, the guitars maintain their own subtle pace, but the drums pick up to a crashing, cymbal-fueled crescendo, making for an interesting dichotomy. The vocals come in, high-pitched and sweet-sounding, at about the 3-minute mark of “We Sing Loud,” a more restrained, almost lullaby-like song, and the vocals almost provide another instrument to the mix. By contrast, vocals are more independent on “Sing Soft Tonight,” sung in a moody style, with the music soft and intermittently crashing, that reminds me of Boys Life. “Sleep On It” leans toward the more repetitive and somnambulistic side, but by the 5-minute mark, the song really kicks in with some absolutely perfect guitar and piano interplay and a thick but restrained beat. The closer, “Real Quiet,” is anything but, in relation to the other songs here. This is one of the most complex and rocking tracks here, with a rolling beat, some driving guitars interspersed with melodic picking, and a consistently faster tempo. Switch the first song with the last might be my suggestion, but it does make a nice closing and flow smoothly from the end of “Sleep On It.”
A lot of bands are focusing on the more quiet, melodic, intricate, and beautiful side of music these days, and I can only see it as a maturing of taste. It’s so nice to hear this style of gorgeous, crisp music that just has so much talent and feeling. No, it’s not the kind of album you’re going to rock out to or play in your car, but it’s subtle and smooth and so lovely, you’ll find a time for it.