Pining for Escape? Sunflower Station Has the Keys

The new jangle-oriented, boy-girl, call-and-response offering from Sunflower Station takes you by the hand to a glorious elsewhere, where all the unhinged nuts and bolts of life are, miraculously, held intact.

Music criticism is nudging private obsessions into the public sphere.

The exercise, to me, isn’t so much a simple matter of ascertaining whether something is of profound beauty or doubtless abomination. In fact, most of the time, I never even get there: meaning I never quite conclude whether something is genius, or the equivalent of a constipated episode.

What the enterprise entails, really, is situating the piece within an archipelago of emotions, associations, and inevitable historicism. What does the song do? Or more to the point, what does it do for me? Is it new or derivative? And in the case of the latter, what does it bring to the table?

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Faced with the summer-evoking indie-pop of Sunflower Station’s “Leave,” one isn’t accosted with an earth-shattering dare. It is an everyman anthem, with an agreeable melody that’s like a face in the crowd—a welcoming, open, and calming presence that neither confronts nor defies—and harmonious instrumentation that’s easily like a warm embrace.

There’s a jingle-jangle skip in its stride, hopping moments of boy-girl call-and-response, and a mono-rhythmic steadiness that doesn’t let up. In other words, it is the sound of all our slow, humdrum days, but the band—singer-guitarist Jany Ligutan, keyboardist-singer Sam Carlos, guitarist Don Davis Pido, bassist Jay Fernandez, and drummer-singer Neil Yap—hand-delivers the expected message with an unexpected kick.

From L-R: Jay Fernandez (bass), Sam Carlos (keys/vox), Jany Ligutan (guitars/vox), Neil Yap (drums) and Don Davis Pido (guitars). Photo by Arman Capistrano

“Leave” is purportedly escapist in theme and motif, but like all the best pop, it has one foot out the door, and the other still in. It therefore unfolds as a dream suspended, and there lies the unwieldy knot. “Leave it all behind just to feel the sunlight” / “Leave it all behind just to feel the sunlight,” goes one key line, and you somehow get a sense of modern city life—with its high-stakes, low-yield repetitiveness—as prison.

“It’s about going to a place [for] peace of mind and euphoria,” the band says. A place away from routine and responsibility, life’s daily news in a manner of speaking, and we’re all straining for a bit of fiction.

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