Goon Sounds Polished on Their Sophomore Album Hour of Green Evening

Kenny Becker’s art-rock project continues to impress in a busy year

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Goon Sounds Polished on Their Sophomore Album <i>Hour of Green Evening</i>

As winter came to a close, Goon dropped one hell of an EP before a rush of more notable releases started to pile up. Paint by Numbers, Vol. 1 is a brief collection of tranquil bedroom-indie-pop recordings, with unforgettable tracks like the chilled-out psychedelia of “Fruiting Body” and the spacy, synth-driven “Siren Rising.” The EP proved that the band had made noticeable progress since their debut three years prior. As it turns out, Goon frontman Kenny Becker had big plans for 2022. Enter Goon’s sophomore album, Hour of Green Evening.

When Becker started releasing his lo-fi rock experiments under the name Goon in 2015, his early songs, filled with sludgy guitars, twinkling synths and poppy melodies, showed much promise for the young songwriter. Goon became a proper band when Becker recruited some college friends for the project’s debut full-length album on Partisan Records, Heaven Is Humming. Becker’s songs started to form into something much more cohesive, even if they were still a bit rough around the edges. The lineup dissolved shortly after, and Becker found himself without a band or a label. Instead of packing it up, Becker’s drive as a songwriter propelled him forward to cultivate a new lineup that seemed much more in tune with the cosmic sounds that Becker is capable of. Goon’s brand of art-rock sounds more polished here than on their debut, and having this new lineup makes for a refined experience that spills over from Paint by Numbers, Vol. 1.

“Pink and Orange” sets the tone for Hour of Green Evening, featuring a cascading synth that twinkles like a title song for the opening screen of an 8-bit Nintendo game. Its dreamy tones rumble into “Angelnumber 1210,” the first of many moments where Becker’s lyrics summon visions of beauty using nature as a backdrop. The jangle and hum of “Ochre” drift into the sounds of birds chirping before landing on the swirling guitars and stunning strings that make up the hooks on “Lyra.” Transitions like this make the record feel like the ideal mixtape; each song flows seamlessly into the next in a thoughtful sequence that balances heartbreak in even doses with hopefulness. When Becker’s one scream on the record comes amidst the distortion on “Wavy Maze,” the band has just as much in common with Sonic Youth as they do with Tame Impala.

Hour of Green Evening remains engaging even at its most lethargic. Goon drifts in and out of a shoegaze haze on “Another Window.” It’s followed by “Buffalo,” where the band uses layered, swirling guitars to build a lush atmosphere. “Bend Back” sees Becker reflecting on the growth of nature and the rebirth that occurs over time. He sings, “I’m in a room letting in sun for the ferns and vines / Coming above for a little while / Tracing your face in the rosy light / You’re opening the vein of time and every ending will within begin again.” The track ends abruptly as the lush piano on “Maple Dawn” acts as a nice palate cleanser, accompanied only by reverse tape loops that give the song a haunting, otherworldly feeling.

There’s a mystical, almost hallucinatory quality to Becker’s songwriting. The record’s climax is “Emily Says,” where Goon flawlessly blends bits of grungy distortion across sonic landscapes of pristine melodies. Becker sings, “Well I’ve been to the mountain high / And melting up into open sky / You are the voice and the reason why.” Here, he explores what it means to find meaning in connection and the truth that comes when a relationship between two people feels like perfection, even when everything else in life is still falling apart. On the album closer, “Last Light On,” he sings, “Rising deep from the faultline / Hydrangea lawn / Azure till the dawn / Beckoning me leave the last light on for you.” His words are dreamlike, peaceful and calming, the serenade for summer evenings on the back porch or taking mushrooms and tripping out with your friends in the park.

Goon has set a high bar for themselves, with even more on the way: Paint by Numbers, Vol. 2 will be released before the year’s end. With two impressive collections already in the bag, it’s hard to imagine that Vol. 2 could be a letdown. Goon has proven that their output is not to be overlooked, regardless of what form it takes.

Jack Probst is a writer and record collector from St. Louis. He appreciates the works of James Murphy, Wes Anderson and Super Mario. Send any and all complaints to @jackdprobst on Twitter. He enjoys writing paragraphs about himself in his spare time.