|Sweetheart of the Sun|
|Studio album by|
|Released||September 27, 2011|
|Label||Model Music Group|
|Producer||The Bangles and Matthew Sweet|
|The Bangles chronology|
|The New York Times||(average)|
Sweetheart of the Sun is the fifth studio album by American pop rock band the Bangles, released on September 27, 2011. It is the band's second album since their 2003 reunion, and their first as a trio after the departure of longtime member Michael Steele. The twelve-song album was co-produced by the Bangles and Matthew Sweet.
Sweetheart of the Sun is only the fifth full-length studio album by the Bangles since the band's inception thirty years earlier. It came eight years after their initial reunion album, Doll Revolution (2003). That record had been followed by an extensive concert tour after which bassist Michael Steele left the group, and a lengthy period of readjustment ensued. The remaining trio tried out new bassists and toured sporadically. Eventually they focused on making a new album on their own - the process would take about two years to complete.
Susanna Hoffs attributed the long process to the fact that the band members were juggling family responsibilities as well as touring and recording. In an interview she said:
...all of us had kids, and we're working moms... It was just that juggling the family stuff with the creative stuff took a while. When The Bangles started... we were sort of married to each other. We were on the road; we were like gypsies. It was all Bangles all the time during the whole decade of the '80s, and we worked it. We were in our twenties and our main responsibility was showing up to the gig on time, so it's quite different now.
The album's name comes from the song "Anna Lee (Sweetheart of the Sun)". That song resulted from Hoffs reading the book Girls Like Us by Sheila Weller which describes prominent female pop stars from Laurel Canyon in the 1960s and '70s, especially Carole King, Joni Mitchell, and Carly Simon. Hoffs passed the book on to Vicki and Debbi Peterson who also loved it. The song conveys the influence these musicians had on the Bangles, both in their music and as role models of independent feminist women.
The song's opening lines - "Got a picture of you sittin', In the kitchen without a stitch on, Beautiful and natural as can be" - were inspired by a passage in the book describing Carole King. Hoffs stated:
There was a section in the book about Carole King talking about her writing partner Tony Stern, and there's a great picture of her sort of crouching down in the garden -- I can't remember what she's doing, but she's completely naked in the picture with Toni Stern. It's really iconic, and sort of said it all about the Ladies of the Canyon. It was an interesting time, because they were feminists in a way -- they were affected by the whole feminist movement -- but they were also free spirits and very feminine. There was this vibe... I don't want to say it was a "hippie-chick" vibe, but it was a unique time for women. We just decided to use those images and some of those stories that we got from the Sheila Weller book to kind of make this composite character that we ended up naming Anna Lee.
Debbi Peterson plays acoustic guitar on "Ball N Chain" and "One of Two". Vicki Peterson plays acoustic guitar on four songs ("Circles in the Sky", "Lay Yourself Down", "One of Two", and "What a Life"), 12-string guitar on four others ("Anna Lee", "Mesmerized", "What a Life", and "Through Your Eyes"), and slide guitar on "Ball N Chain".
Bassist Derrick Anderson plays on all tracks except "Through Your Eyes", which features bass work by Matthew Sweet. The album also includes appearances by Greg Leisz on mandolin, pedal steel, lap steel and electric guitar, and Greg Hilfman on piano and keyboards. Sweet and session musician Jim Scott provide extra keyboards on "Under a Cloud", and John Cowsill sings harmony on "Circles in the Sky".
Of the album's twelve songs, ten are original compositions by some combination of the three band members (with occasional outside collaborators, including the former Go-Go's guitarist Charlotte Caffey); three songs are credited to the full trio itself. In addition to new material expressly written for the album, some of the songs were selected from a trove of unrecorded songs stretching back many years; a few date back as far as the early 1990s. The album's two cover songs date back even farther, to the 1960s: "Sweet and Tender Romance" is a reworking of a 1964 single by the UK girl group the McKinleys, while "Open My Eyes" comes from Todd Rundgren's early psychedelic band, the Nazz.
The album was officially released on September 27, 2011. An expanded version of the album was released exclusively through Barnes & Noble stores and included acoustic versions of "Through Your Eyes" and "What a Life" as bonus tracks.
The album was seen by many critics as a successful reinvention of the Bangles' early musical style - "a beautifully sustained salute to 1960s-inspired pop". Writing in The New York Times, music critic Jon Caramanica remarked that much of the album feels "like mature takes on youthful ideas" and harkens back to the Bangles EP of 1982 and the band's earliest days. Similarly, Steve Pick of Blurt stated that "it sounds remarkably like what we might have expected a follow-up to All Over the Place to be".
|1.||"Anna Lee (Sweetheart of the Sun)"||Susanna Hoffs, Vicki Peterson, Debbi Peterson||3:31|
|2.||"Under a Cloud"||Hoffs, Brian MacLeod, Dan Schwartz||4:07|
|3.||"Ball N Chain"||D. Peterson, Walker Igleheart||3:51|
|4.||"I'll Never Be Through with You"||Hoffs, V. Peterson, Charlotte Caffey||3:40|
|5.||"Mesmerized"||Hoffs, V. Peterson, D. Peterson||3:46|
|6.||"Circles in the Sky"||V. Peterson||4:04|
|7.||"Sweet and Tender Romance"||John Carter, Ken Lewis, Bill Bates||2:11|
|8.||"Lay Yourself Down"||V. Peterson||3:23|
|9.||"One of Two"||Hoffs, V. Peterson, D. Peterson||3:39|
|10.||"What a Life"||V. Peterson, D. Peterson||3:22|
|11.||"Through Your Eyes"||Hoffs, V. Peterson||3:50|
|12.||"Open My Eyes"||Todd Rundgren||3:00|