Gnarboots - Steal my Sunshine [single] (Cover Artwork)
Staff Review


Steal my Sunshine [single] (2013)


Since the release of their debut LP A.L.B.U.M., Gnarboots have performed a number of off-kilter shows, including one of the best shows I've ever seen. But aside from the re-release of their brilliant single "Cats in Pajamas," the band have been relatively silent since.

A.L.B.U.M. was an interesting twist in the Gnarboots discography. Their previous three mixtapes featured the band on the outer edges of weirdness, showing up naked at birthday parties and rapping about food. By contrast, A.L.B.U.M. was just as weird, but it disguised said weirdness in a mask of previously accepted punk genres including hardcore, emo and goth.

However, most interesting is that for all their strange mixtapes and the studio recordings, most of the tracks sounded relatively "nice." That is to say, they might have been strange in content or structure, by they were mostly as pleasing to the ear as most punk or even pop music.

The abrasiveness of their cover of Len's "Steal My Sunshine" off the free My So Called Comp finally finds the band getting weird on a contextual level, but also nasty on the sonic domain. Abrasion can be some of the most interesting textures for music. Composers like Frank Zappa, John Cale and Brian Eno would often get nasty in order create concepts that simply couldn't exist in nicer music.

That's why it's doubly interesting that Gnarboots makes "Steal My Sunshine" so nasty. Len's original was a bubbly, sunny singa-ong that on the scale of pure pop music, wasn't really that bad. But, the Gnarboots version removes the popping backbeat and replaces it with a metronomic screeching. Meanwhile, the background vocals of "Steal My Sunshine" are replaced with a George Clinton-like high-pitch squealer that is halfway between the voice of a child and a demented pixie. The result is something of a horror of a song in the best possible way. It shows that with really only two tweaks or so, a nice sunny head bopper can be twisted into a demented, clanging threat, without ever changing any of the lyrics.

is there beauty in disconnect? Is this a representation of Gnarboots' skill or of how fragile pop music really is? Is Gnarboots announcing a more dangerous mandate for their future releases?