Sun Atoms is psych rock that straddles the line between spiritual mysticism and science fiction. The debut album from Jsun Atoms (from The Upsidedown, Daydream Machine) with producer and frequent collaborator Peter Holmström (of The Dandy Warhols) is a sprawling exploration of ideas and musical themes. Let There Be Light is a record that evokes wonder, with an imagination unhindered by cosmic limits. Although it is primarily in the psych space, there is a lot of darkwave and art-pop littered in this 8-track. Synths and washed guitar textures constantly weave around, performing inter-dimensional cartwheels while Atoms’ vocal provides a grounded launch pad, low yet surprisingly gentle at times, reminds me a lot of Leonard Cohen.
Opening track “The Cat’s Eye” opens with a rhythmic and kaleidoscopic trippiness you sort of expect from the genre, but this has a darker edge to it. A kind of cinematic/western epic feel that is prominent in the album. “Half Robot Half Butterfly” finds Jsun singing over solar-radiated shoegaze, accompanied by rays of dream pop with nods to The Cure.
We have the catchiest tunes settled at the album’s center. The aptly selected lead single “Don’t Take Me to Your Leader” has a warm and breezy feeling, with Jsun accompanied by female vocal harmonies, jovial tambourines and wistful melodies. “Super Switch Kid” is a marvel in percussive arrangements, and where the Cohen inspiration shines its brightest with its patient and poetic lyricism. “Two Wolves and a Lamb Voted on What’s For Dinner” is another curious banger. A dark, menacing, and groovy song of skulls, artifacts and Edgar Allan Poe. It gives off the vibe of being stuck in a haunted house while the butler takes you around a tour, pointing out crazed oddities and artifacts at every corner. The album ends on the hypnotizing “Praying Mantis”, a bright and mysterious bloom of radiating particles, drenched on a bed of horns and warm melodies.
As with any other psych record, Let There Be Light goes off the rails at times, but it always manages to “go home” with pleasant resolutions. It embarks on interstellar adventures while taking care of the listener. Atoms has done a great job in this debut, showing how rich and diverse this style can be.