A blue haired Swedish boy sits opposite Propellerhead’s Reason digital audio workstation, crafting what will be his first ever full-length album. Nanobii, stylized as nanobii, has spent many years refining his craft. From releasing music under his now retired Crazy 1 alias to having singles featured on popular electronic record label Monstercat, his mastery of crafting wonderfully composed melodic content has improved gradually over time and said mastery can be seen in full force throughout his thoroughly enjoyable debut album, Sunshine Express.
Sunshine Express’s brief introductory song, Welcome Aboard, serves as a means of establishing a tone for the remainder of the album. A firm atmosphere of jolliness descends upon the listener, in the form of a jaunty and lighthearted jam that wouldn’t sound out of place in a 3D Super Mario game. nanobii sets out to create a confident vibe in just a single minute, and he proudly succeeds.
Lost On Whale Island, Sunshine Express’s second song is noticeably more subdued than the music nanobii commonly creates at this tempo. Featuring a relaxingly minimal drum pattern, complimented by subtle percussive hits, the song plays out in a hazily dreamlike manner, gently guiding the listener through a wealth of melodies that make effective utilization of a varied pallet of instruments, from synthesizers to pan flutes.
Here to wake you up with a jolt from the peaceful nature of Lost On Whale Island is JUNGLE?FANTASY. Boasting a style that those familiar with nanobii’s music will immediately recognize, it offers a pounding double time drum pattern that drives a rapid tempo, as bold and confident melodies soar throughout the song. nanobii’s mastery of this specific style has been evident ever since his 2013 releases, Sugar Rush and Astral Blast, and JUNGLE?FANTASY shows that he still possesses his powerful melody magic in spades four years later.
Ocean Blue tones Sunshine Express down following the dramatic JUNGLE?FANTASY. With a slow moving tempo, alongside a subtle vocal contribution from nanobii himself, it evokes gorgeous nostalgia of a 16-bit era of music due to its reliance on effectively simplistic synthesis. The chord progression and accompanying melody found at 01:37 is deserving of a special mention, on account of it being pure magnificence.
Sunshine Express’s fifth song, Overworld, allows itself to be relentlessly giddy on the happiness nanobii clearly adores so much. A confidently upbeat tempo is accompanied by jolly melodies, and it is as a result yet another predictably enjoyable song. However, despite its clear status as being yet another example of nanobii’s strong composition skills, I found it to be the weakest offering Sunshine Express has on display. Whilst other songs upon Sunshine Express conjure up a unique scene within one’s head, from swimming in a crystal clear sea and discovering new ocean life, to rolling in gorgeously golden sands, Overworld feels less inspired in its melodic content and atmosphere, and as a result lacks the unique identity and spark that other songs on Sunshine Express flaunt so heavily. Whilst it is still a thoroughly great listen, Overworld’s small downfall is that Sunshine Express’s bar is simply set too high by its other songs.
Following Overworld is what I consider to be Sunshine Express’s masterpiece. Released earlier during this year via a compilation album, You Are My World, carries a tremendous wealth of emotionally driven melodic content, alongside the unrelenting high energy of its thumping groove. Effortlessly blurring the line between happy and sad, this is nanobii doing what he does best, with a stylish confidence that translates into pure joy for the listener. Should you choose to only hear one song from Sunshine Express, make sure that it is You Are My World.
UP&DOWN, Sunshine Express’s seventh song (which like You Are My World, was released earlier this year via a compilation album), sees nanobii both tackling his most accomplished genre, whilst simultaneously fulfilling his desire to experiment creatively. In this case, the creative experimentation in question comes in the form of heavily utilizing 1980’s motivational exercise speeches. From the jaunty piano to the exciting synthesizer hook, to the aforementioned sampling of “Up, and down, you’re doing a great job!”, UP&DOWN is tremendous fun from beginning to end.
The penultimate song of Sunshine Express, Sweet Dreams, re-establishes the softer tone present for much of the first half of the album. With an emphasis on nanobii’s processed vocals throughout, accompanied by a steady triplet drum pattern, joyful vocal chops, and a plethora of synthesizer arpeggios, it offers an effective come down from Sunshine Express’s preceding high energy songs. It finishes with a stupendous finale, which allows for Sweet Dreams to firmly make its mark as yet another brilliant offering from nanobii.
Finally, Sunshine Express concludes its brief run-time with a fifty-second goodbye, in the form of Farewell, Friends. As to be expected by this point, fifty seconds is all that nanobii needs to absorb a listener into his world. Just as it dawns upon you simply how much you’re enjoying the soothing melodies of Farewell, Friends, the song reaches its abrupt conclusion. It certainly leaves you wanting more, as is the case with Sunshine Express as a whole body of work. Its aforementioned brief run-time may leave you somewhat unsatisfied, but with a six song EP titled Love Songs released earlier this very year, it’s clear that nanobii certainly hasn’t been slacking off, and is deserving of much praise for providing his fans with a truly brilliant album, however short it may be.
Should your Summer playlists be in need of some happiness infused melodies, I cannot recommend nanobii’s Sunshine Express enough. There is a tremendous deal of importance to supporting genuine talent such as nanobii’s within music. When artists such as him are writing, producing, and crafting their entire product via their own sweat, blood and tears, without the reliance of writing and production collaborators (which is overwhelmingly popular in today’s commercial music scene, just look at Justin Bieber’s album credits), then they deserve the firm support and respect of music fans the world over. nanobii has worked hard to provide masterful melodic magic throughout his debut album, and he has succeeded with truly fantastic results.