Sun Parade’s sophomore album Shuggy Mtn Breakdown is a kaleidoscopic trip that blends mystical 70s psychedelic rock with upbeat indie melodies.

After releasing their first folk album Yossis in 2012, Sun Parade returns with Shuggy Mtn Breakdown, a departure that fuses indie and psychedelic rock elements. With their sophomore album, the five-member Northampton band mixes ethereal echoes with groovy guitars reminiscent of classic 60s and 70s rock bands like The Beatles and Led Zeppelin. The band experiments heavily with vocal and guitar effects, using these techniques to create a mystical air whilst serving the emotional message of each song. Switching between genres and themes, the songs find a strong cohesion of catchy melodies and sound effects that feels simultaneously familiar and fresh.

Starting off the album is the energetic “Sleep Alone,” a toe-tapping song about sweet romance. The song begins with a dizzying swirl of technologic echoes that snap into a melodic riff, anticipating musical themes that give shape to the album as a whole. The tune is delightfully danceable and the lyrics are upbeat: “Sleeping all alone is alright/ cuz I’ll be with you tomorrow night/ Every time we ever spend the night/ Wake up in the morning feeling right.”

After the first two melodically and rhythmically upbeat songs, “Sleep Alone” and “Cheer Up,” the album takes a darker turn with “Steal My Thunder.” Distorted guitars and vocals add grit to this angry hard rock song. The Led Zeppelin influence is a welcome addition, clearly showcased in the guitar’s descending scales and the bright sound of the harmonizing “AAAHs.”

The next few tracks lean heavily into groovy and edgy beats with dreamy vibes. “Werewolves” is a smooth song that evolves into an otherworldly tune thanks to a reverberating theremin; “Braindrain” combines guitars and sliding whistles to create a hauntingly cool vibe; and “Psycho” abruptly shifts between a hip, upbeat guitar riff to an intense, trudging beat. These dark and heavy tracks set up the album’s whirlwind climax, “Shuggy Mtn.” The album’s title track feels like a nightmarish, epic descent into the end-times—a stark contrast to the album’s earlier upbeat, indie pop songs on the album. But with the band’s tight mixture of electronic, indie, and psychedelic rock, the album’s tonal shifts hold well together.

As “Shuggy Mtn Breakdown” ends with the upbeat yet bittersweet “Tear (Can’t Stop Believing),” Sun Parade demonstrates its ability to mix multiple genres and moods into a balanced album. Lyrically, Shuggy Mtn Breakdown does not match its music on the same experimental and intricate level, but overall the album soars to grandiose highs and plunges to moody lows.

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