High Sunn is Justin Cheromiah’s bedroom pop project that just keeps growing and growing. This San Francisco-based artist started recording and uploading his songs at the age of 14 in 2014. He has been keeping at it through the years, shaping and developing his sound through dozens of releases, which culminated in High Sunn’s first studio LP Missed Connections in 2018. In this review we’ll be looking at the 2020 EP entitled grass.
Longtime listeners of High Sunn will know that Cheromiah has explored a lot of styles in his vast array of releases, delving into punk, guitar pop and shoegaze in the past. He experiments as frequently as he releases new songs, grass is no exception. In this record he glides seamlessly through synth-infused pop with his usual clean guitar dreaminess, but then switches things up with heavy emphasis in dancy beats and rhythms. His affectionate vocals shine through in each song, one that takes a few hints from midwest emo with the occasional use of vocoder effects. The result is something quite distinctive while staying within pop familiarity, a balance that Justin manages effortlessly.
The opener “awkward love” is a wistful banger full of languid melodies over snappy beats Cheromiah’s vocal tone is sincere yet faded – it captures the feeling of telling someone you like them, only to fumble up the words and fail completely. Grass is filled with these intimate moments of youth, moments that may feel difficult to recall, but are nevertheless precious.
Both “moonlight’s tale” and “pure” have vocoder effects that bend and add a nervous quiver to Justin’s voice. These stylings add a sense of loneliness and melancholy that comes with young love, something that makes perfect sense in the context of these songs. Coupled that with lush percussive synths at the low end and glistening strings on high and you get a roller coaster of emotions. The EP closes with “air”, which closely resembles dance pop while maintaining High Sunn’s gentle demeanor.
Grass is short and sweet yet it is a distinctly satisfying offering from this young and prolific talent. If High Sunn isn’t on your radar yet, this one proves as a jumping off point.