Lunar Vacation's New EP - Artificial Flavors
We are all painfully aware by now that the oppressive heat of the summer is here. Yet, a cool breeze is blowing through the Georgia music scene by means of my new favorite record of this season, Artificial Flavors by Lunar Vacation. Contained within this EP is some very professional musicianship and a pop sound that makes one's hair stand on end. Each track brings up emotions reminiscent of everything that’s good about these summer days, where your responsibility list is low, your evenings are planned around friends and sunsets, and there are pool parties a-plenty, while also harboring the dread of saying goodbye to such joyful times.
For this new EP, Lunar Vacation has tapped into a truly cool sound that combines elements of modern indie with funky synth grooves and a hint of a jazz vibe. Lead singer Grace Repasky uses her soulful, relaxing voice to draw you in, while both Repasky and Maggie Geeslin spin their tasty guitar riffs together to help set the mood. John Michael Young stands out with his grooving basslines that perfectly compliment Matteo Delurgio’s classic synths. And of course that beat from Connor Dowd will keep you moving and swaying while waves of nostalgia rock you. The EP, which is the five-piece's second, overall, continues their efforts to establish themselves in the indie-pool-rock scene, and while the band is mostly fresh from the high school grounds, you’d never think as much from a blind listen, as their melodies flow cohesively together to form a mature, balanced sound on this record.
The band started, according to Geeslin, as a result of school-related activities. “Grace and I became close through our guitar class and John Michael, Connor, and Matteo all met through marching band”, and as the group started to jam they found they had an instant connection. This lead to many live shows, jumping between fill-in keyboard players until settling on Delurgio to become a permanent member. Finding influence in groups/artists like Mac DeMarco, Alvvays, Tame Impala, and Tycho, they quickly found their own sound, and from there developed it into what we find on their current release.
Lunar Vacation wanted Artificial Flavors to reflect the transition periods they were all experiencing, a decision that resulted in “the songs dealing with uncertainty and fabrication in relationships” since, for them, the future seems full of uncertainty, and each member of the group feels that they are on the cusp of significant changes in their collective development. “We wanted a name that captured this theme without being too negative, so we settled on ‘Artificial Flavors’ - a fun way of saying, ‘here are some fun songs about dealing with fake people’”.
Coupled with the effects of “listening to a lot of MGMT”, they created a unique pop sound with an upbeat feel, while dealing with these complex emotions, putting a positive spin on facing the inevitable, where having a negative approach would be pointless, as the future holds much more to look forward to.
For me, the track that most fully captures the record’s overall emotional complexity, is “The Basement”. The chorus of “See you next weekend” hints at feelings of abandonment and the loss of friendship (or possibly something even closer), as though a relationship has grown cold. All the while, tension builds within the instrumentation, where poppy melodic lines dive into a dissonant note or two for punctuation, suspending themselves for a moment before moving on, thus giving the listener a reflection of the mood presented by the lyrical narrative. At the end, Repasky dolefully expresses a desire to begin running away; running towards home - to the familiar - because it’s the safe haven one knows. This moment of desired escapism is never satisfied, and instead reality that this situation has spoiled is starting to set in, converting a once-delightful experience into a painful endurance.
Collectively, Lunar Vacation has put together a very professional sounding (and looking) release. While tracks were recorded by Young in his own studio to allow the band “the time and space the songs needed in order to be completed”, they then incorporated the talents of Damon Moon at Standard Electric Studio to polish the album for release. Repasky and Geeslin enlisted artist Miles Wintner to create the album art, and are eager to work with him again in the future.
I would highly suggest catching this band on their upcoming summer tour in support of this EP. You can see them perform around parts of this country starting July 29th, finishing up their stint on the road at The Drunken Unicorn in Atlanta on September 14th. Meanwhile, head over to Lunar Vacation's Bandcamp page or that of their label, Human Sounds Records, and give Artificial Flavors a listen while the long days that embody the record’s spirit are still here.
Photo Credit: Elissa Grady