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Tanukichan - Sundays Music Album Reviews

San Francisco musician Hannah Van Loon marries the dreamlike eeriness of the weekend’s final hours with the heaviness of shoegaze on a debut album co-written and produced by Toro Y Moi’s Chaz Bear.

Sundays can be disorienting. The gateways from weekend to weekday, they wear many hats—Sunday Funday, Lazy Sunday, the Lord’s Day, Sunday Scaries—and possess a magical melancholy all their own. This mystique provides the name, and the inspiration, for the debut album from San Francisco musician Hannah Van Loon, who performs as Tanukichan. Through heavy distortion, bleeding basslines, and eerie lyrics, Van Loon captures the spirit of a day whose wide-open nature fosters anxieties as well as ambitions.

The late cultural critic Mark Fisher wrote that eeriness was characterized “by a failure of absence or by a failure of presence… when there is something present where there should be nothing,” and vice versa. Those sensations, of something elemental missing and of something ghostly lingering, permeate Sundays’ ten tracks. With help from co-writer and producer Chaz Bear—aka chillwave innovator Toro Y Moi—who also worked on Van Loon’s 2016 Radiolove EP, Tanukichan marries the eerie and dreamlike qualities of the weekend’s final hours with the heaviness of shoegaze.

The result is a thoroughly dazed album that conjures a daydream so immersive (if not always so idyllic), it precludes any intrusive thoughts. The instrumentation on Sundays feels sun-baked and toasty in its fuzzy beach towel of distortion. “Natural” is a car ride with the windows open and sunbeams kissing every exposed limb. “The Blue Sky” envelops Van Loon in the hazy heavens. The warped, spiraling guitar riff on “Like the Sun” recalls a wind-up music box whose overheated ballet dancer has begun to melt.

Sundays’ eeriness comes from its lack of specificity. There is a void at the center of its songs, filled only with a longing for something that remains unarticulated. Album opener “Lazy Love” is a tussle between agency and lethargy. Its chugging bassline and bouncy electronic drum beat battle the electric guitar’s grumpy wail. “For as long as I remember/Got up over and over/Does that mean anything at all?” Van Loon wonders. Her voice is serene and almost sleepy as she seems to question her apathy.

The bulk of Sundays deals with similar sentiments of lack of control or direction. “Hunned Bandz” revels in this freedom, while “Perfect” drips with uncertainty. “What am I doing/If I could just lay flat,” Van Loon sings on the latter. She wants to bathe in the brightness of morning sun (if she can wake up for it), but restlessness takes over and she becomes overwhelmed. Tanukichan comes closest to pinning down this peculiar sensation on “The Best,” where she frets that her growing numbness will isolate her. Although the backstory never surfaces, Tanukichan fully fleshes out the feeling. Sundays isn’t a record of Hannah Van Loon’s personal history—it’s a library of her emotions.

But the album doesn’t leave you stranded in its liminal space. Van Loon has said that Sundays’ title was meant to capture the “laziness, and dreamy clarity that you can feel after a late night, waking up having to face the world with a new perspective.” On its final track, “This Time,” the heavy reverb and distortion fall away, leaving a perky set of guitar chords, a cool-headed bassline, and an iridescent, organ-like synth. “Oh I know I can be so blind/Maybe it’ll be worth it this time,” Van Loon sings, finally sounding more relaxed than exhausted.

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