SONG REVIEW: The Sunday Cartoons carves a unique sonic path with ‘Oasis’

Sydney based artist Senjay Turner, aka The Sunday Cartoons, released his latest track “Oasis” on Tuesday, and in keeping with its palindromic release date (22/02/2022), I’ve had it playing on a loop in my head since I first heard it.

The artist’s previous single, “Biscuits”, saw them playing with a sound reminiscent of the quirky electronic riffs and thumping basses of early 90s Australian rave music. Echoes of The Clan Analogue, in particular Telharmoneom, can be heard in the repetitive sounds of alien spacecraft shooting lasers and flying off to distant worlds. The lyrics, which followthe exploits of someone failing to get into clubs during kick ons after taking drugs, further drench the song with the feeling of some sweaty rave or a faded night out.

“Oasis” sees Sunday Cartoons shifting his sound somewhat. Speaking with SURG, the artist expressed their desire with the song to “explore the digital elements of songwriting both textural[ly] and structurally to create a full psychedelic sound.”

The singing and production here is a step away from the the grungy, quickly paced rave sound of “Biscuits” towards something much cleaner. The bass guitar riffs and kick drums that permeate the song provides an organic ground that the euphoric electronic chords stand on, providing a more hopeful harmony while still keeping true to the moodiness of Sunday Cartoons’ whole vibe.

Detailing the origins of the song, Turner said it spawned from a month amid the heavy 2021 lockdowns which occurred during a “rough period” in their life.

“I’d recently come out of a long relationship, my housemate had gone back home to live with his mum, and so I was left in my apartment truly alone for the first time. Without that other person to constantly text or call, I really got to know myself quite intimately -perhaps too intimately”, he says.

“I felt like I was going crazy as the only conversations I had were really within myself. I was struggling with mental health and using substances to cope – but I was also creating the best art I ever had, and so within me I almost felt as though I had to stick it out and learn to live with myself and seek comfort through finding my own wants and needs.” 

The struggle is more than evident in the song’s lyrics, which describe the dual nature of isolation as a period of artistic growth yet one of mental spiraling. The way time spent alone can be beneficial to one’s self, and how the euphoric ardor of creation can itself feel like an oasis – “Lock myself away till I feel like I’m becoming someone equal.” 

At the same time, they concede that you must not let this isolation consume you: “The flowers in the garden told me to let my guard down / And I was left to face the tide all to remind us that we have lost spaces creating an oasis.” Even the cover art, along with the recurring spiral imagery on Sunday Cartoons’ instagram in the lead up to the tracks release, seems to point to this manner of falling down a rabbit hole of isolation.

As for what’s next, Turner has plenty of projects up his sleeve.

“I’m working hard on completing tracks for an EP, hopefully to come before May, along with music videos, album artwork etc. I’ve been listening to a lot more glitch pop, drum and bass, and electronic pop so my next pieces of work are heavily inspired by artists like Flume, PinkPantheress, AUDREY NUNA, Jean Dawson.”

“Along with that, all the sad depressing breakup material I wrote over 2021 on my guitar I’m working on putting together in a band setting with a couple friends – currently untitled. […] I’m really looking forward to playing some heavier alt rock gigs.”

“Oasis” is unlike anything I’ve heard before, with a sound that’s impressively original, as well as difficult to describe or pinpoint.  It’s somewhere between the quirky instrumentals of bar italia mixed with the dreary electronic undertones of Lorn, but even then this comparison feels inaccurate. Much like an actual oasis one might find in the desert, Sunday Cartoons is a refreshing voice on the Sydney scene, sure to quench one’s thirst if they’re looking for a new sound.

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