Sunshine & the Bad Things is the latest project of vocalist Valerie Phillips and guitarist/vocalist/songwriter Justin Lee. The two met in The Curious Crandalls and went on to form part of Jeff Markham and The Last Call before embarking on S&TBT about a year ago.
The band (with Heather Martini on keys and viola, Michael Thomson on guitar, Joseph Massie on bass and Chris Carter on drums) calls its sound “a chewy pop rock nougat wrapped in a creamy psychedelic shell.” The band name works pretty well, too, with Phillips’ sweet sometimes-lead and sometimes-background vocal as the sunshine; Lee’s darker growl paired with fuzzy guitars and shadowy textures as the bad things.
Not that much about the hooky, melancholic-yet-energetic power pop of S&TBT could be called “bad.” All five tracks on the woefully brief self-titled EP are imbued with bittersweet restlessness. “I’ll Be Nowhere,” an intoxicating standout, crackles with glitchy synth, long guitar notes, pretty angst and Phillips’ and Lee’s voices doubled on the line, “I’m not myself and I just don’t care.”
“Kung Fu Boy Scouts” is a sucker punch of post-new wave and alt-rock, somehow edgy and dreamy at once. “Fire Dancer” descends into the murky goth of Joy Division, though Carter’s drumming lends a snap and dance-y pulse to what could otherwise be a narcotic soundscape. Well, the drums and the buoyant psychedelic break.
Though S&TBT’s EP varies widely in style from track to track, each offering is fully-formed and polished. And this is a new band, still finding its footing. Time will no doubt see them honing a sound — any of the EP’s tracks would work, though my hope is for something along the lines of “Traces” (check it out, below) and “I’ll Be Nowhere,” where the band finds an instantly likeable groove yet still manages to slip in a few surprises.
Sunshine & The Bad Things performs at The LAB on Friday, Dec. 16 with Elkmont Place and Anatomy of Frank. 9:30 p.m., $5.