Sunny Pompeii get whimsical on debut album, Vinegar

I was going to write about Die Antwoord's new, crude Donker Mag, but opted for something a little less abrasive and a little more local.

Four years in the making, Sunny Pompeii is "a band of five friends from Vancouver," quite unassuming until a simple Google search reveals their alternate name: "Said The Whale drummer Spencer Schoening's side project." Which is true, but not accurate -- in fact, this context presages Sunny Pompeii as the moniker of a solo singer-songwriter tangent to an indie folk unit. (Think Alexander to Edwarde Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeroes or Mark Kozelek to Sun Kil Moon.)

Sunny Pompeii, however, is its own entity: they have this surfy, West Coast vibe going for them, the kind that really takes root out towards the Pacific. Appropriately so, the music video for lead single "Better Half” features retro title type and found footage. Musically-inspired by the likes of Real Estate and Best Coast, Schoening just "want[s] to be the ocean,” and the rest of the album is just as lyrically imaginative. "If I could, I would sleep like a cat... on your lap," drawls Schoening on "Sleepless."

Sunny Pompeii calls themselves "rainforest garage," which isn't a bad descriptor, especially for tracks like "Sleepless" and "Leap Years," which have stronger folk influences. Vinegar's themes appear fun and light throughout the first half of the album, but it sours mid-album. The darkest and most interesting track, "Garbage Island," is executed in a minor key, indicating this shift in mood.

"Anchorage" is a high point on the album, coupling a play on the word "anchor," with unconventional vocal melodies in the chorus. "Rain Smell," Vinegar’s token closing ballad evokes its title through its standalone acoustic guitar accompaniment. And yet, Sunny Pompeii effectively maintains their lyrical whimsicality by personifying a garden hose. Remedied by this, the album ends on a sweet note.

The band is celebrating with a release party this Thursday at Vancouver's Fox Cabaret.