Sunset Season Album Review
By: Casey Duyan
Youtuber and musician Conan Gray has been making videos and covers since his early high school years. 2018 marked the year his music career truly popped off with his first single Grow, symbolizing the end of his highschool life being released in the beginning of the year. Towards the end of the year, the release of his ep, Sunset Season, recalls the trials and tribulations he'd gone through leading up to the current life he has attending UCLA. The ep itself holds an immense amount of emotion and power despite being only 5 songs long and is really worth the 18 minutes needed to listen to the whole ep. The genre most of the songs fall under what I’d like to label as bedroom pop. They’re all something you’d listen to maybe on a rainy day or a sunday night, maybe as you reminisce about he past or think about that someone special.
The ep opens up with the song “Idle Town”. Idle Town has a very mellow beat to it and includes many harmonies which seems to be a signature of most of Conan’s songs. The background behind the song is that it's an homage to the secluded Texan town Conan grew up in. The people and the environment of the town was what shaped Conan into the creative mind he is today. Despite his love for the little town and the people, he wants to be able to break free and live his own life beyond the restraints of his town. The song was written during his senior year of highschool and reminisces his memories of his friends and school life. Overall, it's a good song and can invokes a sort of sense of nostalgia in those listening to it.
The second song on the ep is “Generation Why?” Generation why has a similar melody to Idle town yet the chorus is a bit faster than the slow progression Idle town has. The title is a nod to the term generation y/millennials along with how those in generation y have grown up into a sort of corrupt world and are forced to somehow fix it themselves. Our world today tends to be gruesome and unapologetic when it comes to problems such as climate change and our rocky political climate. Along with this, the song touches on how baby boomers believe millennials are lazy and don’t act correctly on the problems happening in our society and the world in general. Overall, the song is pretty feel good and upbeat despite the sad and political statements in the song.
The third song on the ep is “Crush Culture”. This song is probably the most upbeat out of the five and fits the best into the pop category. I personally feel like this song is the definition of an anti Valentine's day song due to its repulsion of love itself. If you’re single on Valentine’s day then this is definitely the song for you to scream at the top of your lungs. The song is basically about Conan being sick and tired of being surrounded by those in love and how he feels pressured by others to fall in love. Although, behind all of his disgust of love, Conan lets himself fall in love and the whole point of the song is how he hates the feeling of being in love in general. The music video for the song depicts Conan ruining people’s dates along with many shots of him ripping up or popping hearts. Overall, crush culture is probably the one of the most emotion evoking songs on the ep and would be great to blast on the car ride home or sing in your shower.
The fourth song on the ep is “Greek God”. Once again, this song has a slow melody including tons of harmonies and a catchy chorus. This formulas tends to be what makes up a majority of Conan’s songs. Greek God, like two other songs on the ep, discusses how Conan felt about his high school crush. The song shows how his crush tended to be insecure about themselves by putting up an arrogant facade rather than being themselves. The crush would act mean and ruthless just to fit in with their friends instead of realizing what they were doing was wrong. Yet Conan was able to see through their act and pick through all their little acts. Personally, not one of my favorite songs on the ep but it’s still catchy and fun to sing to even though I can’t really personally relate to it myself
The last song on the ep is “Lookalike”. Personally, this is my favorite song on the ep due to how much raw emotion is in the song lyrics and if you've been looking for a song to cry to in the shower, this is it. Lookalike in general is probably the saddest song on the ep and what adds to that is piano being the main instrument used, painting a more depressing feel to the song as a whole.The song, once again, is about Conan's high school crush. It depicts that the crush had found someone new who in a way, was very similar to Conan. He sees this as the crush just trying to replace the “Conan shaped” hole in their heart but deep down, although, Conan knows that he too needs a lookalike. I feel like the way the song starts is really what gets the tears flowing. He first talks about how he’d fallen in love with his crush and when the first harmonies hit and lead into the chorus, the tears are already falling. In general, the song is just filled with so much emotion and sorrow yet the way the lyrics and music fit together makes it just sound so beautiful despite its melancholy meaning.
Sunset season really set up Conan’s place in the music community and was extraordinary for being just his debut ep and not even a full album. I’ve personally been watching Conan’s youtube videos since the 8th grade and I’m so overjoyed that I was able to see him grow and pursue his dreams over the years. Hopefully, he’ll continue to bless us with more amazing music that’ll have tears dropping in seconds.