While living in the slightly shrunken shadow of its big brother band, Annuals, Sunfold has barely been heard from since releasing its first full-length two summers ago. Annuals guitarist Kenny Florence fronts the sextet, eschewing Annuals bombast for precise texture and a more traditional guitar-keys-bass-drums approach.
Though there's not a knockout single to be found among the four tracks on Sunfold's Harmonia Macrocosmica, the EP's reward is the gradual discovery that comes from peeling back the layers of its soundscapes. "April," for instance, ushers in the disc with its most straight-ahead tune. While less imaginative bands would make the verse-chorus-verse-bridge-chorus structure sound rote, the arrangement evolves constantly here: Gentle electric guitar glides on waves of delay in verse one, content to saunter alongside Florence's unhurried delivery, though the guitars crunch in the pre-chorus before soon winding skyward, matching Florence on the anthemic refrain. Electronic flourishes and skuzzy keys come out to play before the tune can work its way back to the second chorus.
Sunfold is just as adventurous elsewhere.
Taking cues from both latter-day Radiohead and Danny Elfman's Edward Scissorhands score, "Levels" abruptly jumps from ethereal vocals, fingerpicked guitar and otherworldly keys to a skittering electrobeat, pushing a lush swirl of electronics and guitars. Punchy closer "Thought We'd See You Hovering" drips with organ and rides a deep bass groove through its dreamy verses. Like the rest of Harmonia Macrocosmica, the hooks here are somewhat weak, but Sunfold's fertile imagination merits repeated explorations.
Harmonia Macrocosmica goes on sale Thursday, March 18, when Sunfold plays Local Band Local Beer at Tir Na Nog. Mount Weather opens the free show at 10 p.m.