Caroline Polachek is back with “Sunset,” her third proper single since the 2019 release of her debut album under her own name, Pang. Released alongside a music video, the track has a lot to live up to: Its predecessors “Bunny Is a Rider” and “Billions” were among Paste’s top songs of 2021 and 2022 (at mid-year), respectively.
Co-produced by Polachek and Sega Bodega, “Sunset” is a bewitching, escapist swerve that sets the singer’s ethereal voice against a bright and breezy instrumental. Acoustic guitar dances across handclaps and a Balearic beat, as Polachek serenades a lover who gives her hope when nothing else feels right: “But boy, your patience is a magic and a medicine / ‘Cause every spiral brings me back into your arms again / No regrets, ‘cause you’re my sunset / Fiery red, forever fearless,” she sings, punctuating each chorus by urging, “Don’t look back, let’s ride away.” Polachek alludes subtly to the darkness of modern times, but never lets them cloud the halcyon track, instead finding peace and joy in passionate love.
“Resolution is so rare in life, but music is unnaturally full of it. A sunset is the biggest pop cliche ever, because it’s a perfect resolution,” Polachek says of her new song in a statement. “Ennio Morricone passed away a few months before Salvador (Sega Bodega) and I started ‘Sunset,’ and the folkloric, epic tone of the spaghetti western sunset played on my mind. I wanted an operatic chorus with no lyrics, but salted with some very real disillusionment: past all the distraction, dead ends and false promises of the world is the love we too often take for granted. That’s my sunset.”
The “Sunset” video, which Polachek co-directs alongside Matt Copson, was shot on location in Barcelona, where she and Sega Bodega perform the track at an open-air party. Eventually, Polachek heads off on her own, walking the beach and city streets, making a (feline) friend, and sunbathing and drawing on a rooftop, until she reunites with the group at—you guessed it—sunset. It’s an idyllic, alluring clip that taps into the same sense of lighthearted freedom and romance as the song itself.
In addition to Polachek’s acclaimed solo singles, her post-Pang period has included collaborations with Paramore’s Hayley Williams (remixing Petals for Armor opener “Simmer”), A.G. Cook (remixing Apple opener “Oh Yeah”), Charli XCX and Christine & The Queens (on the former’s CRASH single “New Shapes”), and Flume (on Palaces single “Sirens”). Just this month, she released “Non Voglio Mai Vedere Il Sole Tramontare,” an aria composed by Oliver Leith, supported by 12 Ensemble Orchestra and produced by Danny L Harle, for Leith’s opera adaptation of Gus Van Sant’s Kurt Cobain film Last Days.
Watch Polachek’s “Sunset” video below and further down, watch her perform Chairlift hit “Bruises” in the Paste offices with the band circa 2010.