Minnesotan Rock veterans Semisonic return with their fourth studio album, Little Bit of Sun, after a 22 year hiatus. The LP, released through Pleasuresonic Recordings, was something Dan Wilson found interesting to write, given that he writes from the perspective of the present day, as he has recently been quoted as saying.
Starting with the title track, Little Bit of Sun, we’re greeted with simple guitar chords and classic 90’s song progression, an inoffensive short song brimming with positivity, with Wilson proclaiming “I only need a little bit to get by”. The Rope swiftly follows, a real pop-indie track with a more electric feel, great backing harmonies and horns, as the song steadily progresses to an abrupt end, where we are counted into Grow Your Own. Drums and heavy guitars with just a touch of feedback, cool riffs, nostalgic lyrics and clever wordplay from Wilson about growing and rolling your own, talking about the music scene but more than a whiff of a marijuana double entendre.
Don’t Fade Away returns the album to its more acoustic beginnings, with hushed vocals and positive lyrics, while Keep Me in Motion brings back that late 1990s pop-rock vibe. Down tempo All the Time follows, while If You Say So is the turn for bass guitarist John Munson to be lead vocals, taking a reproachful look at what might have been. Out of the Dirt has a country/blues twist on the track, which is hardly surprising when you consider Lori McKenna was co-writer.
It Wasn’t Like We Hoped It Would Be is the bands second melancholy tune, retrospectively looking at a life that didn’t pan out as expected, and this is swiftly followed by So Amazed – a mid-tempo, positive rock track, of being in the right place at the right time with the right person. Penultimate track Only Empathy has up tempo rhythm guitar, with Wilson offering the3 only thing of worth (empathy) to the recipient of the song, whilst rounding off the album we have the longest track on the album, Beautiful Sky, a swing rhythm to the guitar, and an almost lullaby feel to the beginning of the song which moves into a rock some which sounds like it had been plucked straight from 1995.
In Semisonic’s new album, Little Bit of Sun, we get a dozen tracks containing the same kind of tracks that Semisonic were creating in the 1990s: inoffensive instrumentation, and genuine sincerity to the lyrics, drawing upon contemporary events, feelings and moods. They don’t try to reinvent the wheel, and this results in the band producing an album that has a turn of the century quality to it, containing topics and perspectives of a veteran of the music scene, reminiscing about the good (and the bad) old days and espousing humility, empathy and love – and there is nothing wrong with that!! Fans of Semisonic will like the album purely from a nostalgic perspective, but I would suggest new listeners should check out their back-catalogue (or at least, the tracks which made them famous) before diving head first into this one.