Sunshine are a quartet of surname-less post-punkers from the 15th century Czech Republic town of Tabor; Kay (pronounced K-eye) is their decidedly un-spunky leader. Everything about Sunshine, in fact, suggests that their members allowed irony to play a starring role when they selected their name upon forming in 1994. Through three U.S. releases -- 2003's well-received Necromance, 2004's Electric! Kill! Kill! EP, and 2005's Moonshower and Razorblades -- plus buzzed-over imports such as 2000's Velvet Suicide and 2002's Hysterical Stereo Loops, Beats & Bloody Lips, the synthed-up, shaggy-looking Eastern Europeans have showered their mildly creepy, tightly wound sound on audiences with a taste for the fiery and the indelicate. If Moonshower and Razorblades, which found the band signing to Custard Records, home of Pink, helped deliver the band to a wider audience stateside, so did its D.I.Y. road ethic in the half-decade leading to that release: opening dates for likeminded acts such as the (International) Noise Conspiracy, the Faint, and Sparta secured a throng of groupies thousands strong, and split singles with No Knife and At the Drive-In also fueled a devoted following.
Along with bandmates Daniel (drums), Amak (bass), and Jiri (guitar), Kay comes from an aggressive no wave place, but one that turned increasingly claustrophobic during the late '90s. The antidote, by the sound of later albums, was '80s-style drama. Though Kay, whose singing style is half wail, half buzzy shout, openly claims an early addiction to the Cure and Joy Division, those influences, mixed up with a healthy shot of Depeche Mode, surface most recognizably on later discs. Present are the intense, dark-edged grooves that are no less danceable for their fury, but absent are the sulking and gloom normally associated with '80s bands. Most distinguishing about Sunshine in a rock landscape overcrowded with influence-spouting electro copycats, though, is their unditchable Euro-ness. A pleasingly un-American wiriness pierces this music. At times it's oddly fizzy and insect-like, calling to mind another dark European group that shook the world with its plugged-in fury: the Scorpions. ~ Tammy La Gorce