Sonatore – American Boys

My first introduction to SONATORE was in the form of a music video in which he wore a shroud and sung about the heartache of a dissolving relationship. Shortly after, I encountered another video in which projections appeared around empty rooms of a house, a version of Sonatore still shrouded but now going as far as to embody a spectre (fitting for a song called “I am a Gh_st.”) Since that time, there has been a steady stream of new singles; all adorned with intriguing artwork and often with surprising collaborators like Morgan Bosman or Angie Marie Go.

Wearing a shroud and casting yourself as a visage may register as “dramatic” to some but it’s always struck me as “authentic.” Sonatore has already crafted a body of work that does not shy away from truthful, personal, emotional topics and with the release of the full-length American Boys he continues that journey. The album is truly an immersive experience, best experienced from start to finish.

By his own admission, American Boys is “essentially a break-up album” but it expands beyond that into the hardships of relationships as a whole. He tells us that the title track “sets the theme of how guys in the queer community haven’t necessarily been the best towards each other — whether it’s body shaming, elitism, or racism. In a weird way straight men are effected as well due to perceptions of masculinity and sexuality. It can cause people in both groups to not treat one another very well.” Listening back to the track with that context in mind, the refrain of “we’re breaking each other down” hits quite a bit harder. This isn’t just about two people having a hard time but community struggles both inwardly and outwardly.

The largess of the subject matter never causes the album to drag. Sonatore’s baritone vocals do instill a feeling of guarded emotional observations but they’re often backed by dance-y electronic drums, fuzzy bass, swirls of keyboards, layers of vocals and delightful handclaps. “L Train” feels like a bouncy walk through the city. “Locker Room Talk” weaves hip-hop influences, ominous guitars and an aggressively upsetting tale. “The Magician” floats you along with some hopeful optimism. The vocal style may register as a numbness but the music never reflects such a stoic feeling. The balance between the two is always carefully balanced.

American Boys isn’t a pop record but it’s not an overly self-indulgent bedroom record either. Working with producer’s Chance Cook and Pete Mulcahy Jr, Sonatore has crafted 40 minutes of music that manages to be catchy, intensely personal and outwardly thoughtful. As the winter months close in on us, take some time to actively sit and listen to the record; paying attention to the lyrics and providing yourself with an opportunity for some reflection and a bit of a good time along the way too.

Get notified about new episodes and shows!