Apollo Sunshine blends '60s psychedelic folk with the arena rock hugeness of the '70s and the lo-fi noise pop aesthetics of '90s groups like My Bloody Valentine or the Olivia Tremor Control. The cover art for the Boston, Mass.-based trio's third record, Shall Noise Upon, depicts a Jackson Pollock-like, color-splattered globe surrounded by constellations of religious and spiritual icons from every corner of the earth. The image suggests the record somehow takes the disparate cultures of a large world and unifies them into a single, genre-breaking, stargazing album. It may seem like an impossibly lofty goal, but the songs deliver.
Shall Noise Upon is conceptually tied to spirituality and the beauty of nature. The album's opening track, "Breeze," floats along appropriately on rising and falling harp scales with lyrics about the "sweet harmonies" of the winds, streams, and trees. "Singing to the Earth (To Thank Her For You)" is a beautiful love song that finds the singer offering a gorgeous melody to mother earth, thanking her for the love he has found. "666: The Coming of the New World Government" opens with the lyrics "Believing is harder than it used it to be" and continues as a world-weary look at global politics and spiritual state. And those are just the first three tracks. There's also "We Are Born When We Die," "Green Green Lawns of Outer Space," and "Light of the World."
When bassist Jesse Gallagher talks of the influence of '60s psychedelia on the band's sound, the worldly musical goals of the record are clear. "There was a lot of amazing psychedelic music coming out all over the world in the late '60s, and for countries like Brazil, Turkey, Nigeria, etcetera, these records are just being re-discovered now and it's amazing to hear how the whole world was really pulsing musically at that time."
The record is most certainly psychedelic, in both its sounds and in its subject matter. With Shall Noise Upon, Apollo Sunshine sounds like a group of tree-hugging hippies trapped in a spaceship, looking down on the pollution-filled 21st century in horror — and that's the sense you get from the cover art. Maybe calling Apollo Sunshine a group of time-traveling spacemen is a bit much, but by their sound, it's certainly what they aspire to.