Posted by: Ryan Allen on June 25, 2008 at 12:00 pm

Sunshine Doray, S/T (Gangplank Records, 2008)

Listen: “Anton The Leper”

Somewhere between Yo La Tengo’s jazzier ballads and the slinky, sexy moves heard on PJ Harvey’s To Bring You My Love — with a little theatrical pomp thrown in for good measure — lies the twisted and beautiful piano pop of Sunshine Doray. Tempered by minimalist, brushed percussion and the wonderfully intertwining vocals of Deanne Iovan and Kate Feeny, Sunshine Doray’s songs are as bare and pure as the skin featured on the album’s cover. Though occasionally peppered with melodica, clarinet, or toy piano plonks, the real attraction to their self-titled debut is how much the band does with so little. Yep, for the most part, it’s just piano, vocals, and drums; and with not much in the way, the more the 60s-pop influenced melodies and effortless ivory tickling stands out. Listen to tunes like “Anton The Leper” and “Mirror Mirror” and it’s easy to imagine them playing in the background of some imaginary party hosted by groovy intellectuals discussing Woody Allen films and the studies of Alfred Kinsey. But the band is diverse, as country-ish ballads like “How Long” and an honest, straight-up cover of Lou Reed’s “Perfect Day” show an elegant range. Elsewhere, on “So Wrong,” the theatrical thing they hint at throughout comes on full force, and it’s a ball listening to ’em holler about how they were right — “Yes!” — and how you (whoever that you is) were wrong, wrong, wrong; as if they were singing their hearts out in some off-Broadway production of the fake musical of the same name. Even pushing their theatre chops further, some of the songs carry an all-knowing sense of humor that keeps things from getting too Vanessa Carlton-cheese or Tori Amos-Earth Mother; it’s hard to imagine either pop princess singing about “lonely old people, who’s families ignore them” (on “Lonely Old People Polka”) or boys with “thrift store clothes and trust-fund woes” (on the Rhodes-propelled “Golden Boy”). But we can with Sunshine Doray, because they have the smarts and skill to pull it off. — Ryan Allen

Sunshine Doray’s Record Release Party, w/ Serenity Court • 6/29 • Cliff Bell’s

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