Kississippi’s 2015 album, We Have No Future, We’re All Doomed, is an introspective, dreamy EP that got Philly native Zoe Reynolds’ foot in the door, but her debut full-length album on SideOneDummy, Sunset Blush, is a step in a new direction. The album is an exploration of relationships, filled with the same vocals and guitar that made We Have No Future an instant hit but incorporates new electronic sound to build a more diverse, but effortlessly smooth, album. We Have No Future was like a story told from different perspectives, all taking place within the same room. On Sunset Blush, Kississippi is on another plane entirely.
The album opens with “Once Good” and the single off the album, “Cut Yr Teeth.” The guitar blends beautifully with Reynolds’ voice to produce biting songs of resentment, with lyrics just as stinging: “Eyes closed for lack of purpose, lack of light or fear that I’ll lose it, you’ve never felt sorry at all.” By the third track, “Red Light” , however, the introduction of electronic beats and synth adds another layer to the already heart-wrenching words. They glimmer and ache with power, and by the time “Easier To Love” arrives, a dry eye can’t be found. The emotional core of the song is brought out beautifully by the interweaving harmonies and electronic sounds.
Throughout the album, Reynolds combines emo influences in self-deprecatory lyrics while filling it with sounds of pop rock, the entire album feeling lush and warm but the words expressing self doubt in relationships. “I could be better, you could be worse” sings Reynolds on “Who Said It First?” Despite the somber mood, however, it leaves the listener feeling stronger than before, Reynolds working through emotions in real-time, and coming out the other end more complete. Sunset Blush gives off that impression as well, moving from heartbreaking to empowering within ten songs. By “Lash To Lash,” one feels emboldened by the strength radiating off the track.
Sunset Blush is a shiny album, one that shows clear vision and elbow grease. Reynolds is a master of harmonies, boasting effortless control over her vocals, while also being a powerhouse guitarist. The addition of keys to the band only serves to expand their sound, although they never lean on it, constantly interweaving harmonies and chords between. Sunset Blush is everything I’ve wanted from Kississippi but didn’t know it: cool, calculated, and contemplative.