Throughout the course of this site’s almost 12 year history, I’ve spilled copious amounts of virtual ink covering blogosphere darlings and JOVM mainstays Sylvan Esso — Mountain Man‘s Amelia Heath (vocals, synths) and Megafaun’s Nick Sanborn (synths, programming, production). And since their formation the duo have released three critically applauded, commercially successful albums: 2014’s self-titled debut, 2017’s Grammy-nominated What Now and 2020’s Grammy-nominated Free Love.
The duo’s latest single “Sunburn” is the first bit of new material since the release of Free Love, and the single is a concise pop banger, centered around a minimalist production featuring wobbling 808 thump, glistening synth arpeggios bursts paired with Meath’s dreamy delivery and the duo’s unerring knack for crafting big, crowd-pleasing hooks. Lyrically, the song describes sensory overload with a novelistic attention to detail: you can literally feel skin blistering from overexposure to the sun, the bloated feeling of eating too much rand so on. e
Written on a warm January evening in Los Angeles, as Meath sat on the front porch with a smoggy cityscape sprawled out ahead of her, “Sunburn” isn’t tied to a particular place or time but is rooted in the sour taste and sting of having too much of a good thing.
As Amelia Meath and Nick Sanborn explain:
eating candy til you’re sick
riding your bike too fast down a hill
when you’re five years old and don’t want to get out of the water, and by the end you’re shivering and all your fingers are pruney and your lips are turned purple
an undertow that sneaks up unsuspectingly
the painful pulsing pink of swollen eyelids leftover after a day lying in the sun
plunging forward without time for second-guessing . . . “