Sunbeam Sound Machine’s second album follows five years after the group’s debut Wonderer, and given it’s essentially a one-man band, fronted by Melbourne-based Nick Sowersby, it’s also a good reminder that everyone works at their own pace. Certain hallmarks of classic home recording are evident throughout Goodness Gracious. Sowersby is audibly taken by the continuing impact of late ’60s Beach Boys and all that’s followed in its wake. His band name is well-chosen, with his soothing, understated vocals, nearly always swathed in reverb, flowing gently through the mix.
But Goodness Gracious is hardly a Brian Wilson homage; everything from crisp Scandinavian indie-pop to shoegaze bliss-out feed into the album’s vibe, and the sound feels big without ever being crushing. The fact that most of the songs either start or resolve around a core melodic figure, or feel like they’re resting on a central loop, adds to a cyclical feeling that’s on the right side of obsessive. Titles like “Seems Like You’ve Made Up Your Mind” and “Other Kindness” hint at roiled emotions recalled in retrospect, but the music’s calm, gentle tone suggests the possibility of peace and healing. The sharper guitar sting on songs such as “Hold Me Back,” “Mind You,” and “Talking Distance” keep things varied, while Sowersby’s quiet, assured vocals gently guide the songs from crest to crest.