Tenderness in Chaotic Times: Taiwan’s Sunset Rollercoaster on Buoyant 3rd Album ‘SOFT STORM’

Sunset Rollercoaster © Sofia Lee
Sunset Rollercoaster © Sofia Lee

Mitch's Take

10 Music Quality
10 Content Originality
9 Production
10 Sonic Diversity
7 Lyricism
9 Memorability
9 Arrangement
9.1
A buoyant bright spark in the pandemic, Sunset Rollercoaster’s dazzling  ‘SOFT STORM’ is an oasis in 2020’s seemingly endless torrential downpour: A respite of colorful sound, sweet melody, and earnest emotion ready to empathize and elevate our present mood to soaring new heights.
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“Candlelight” – Sunset Rollercoaster ft. OHHYUK




Playing in a band is a dynamic process to know who we are, and a storm is a dynamic outcome of the hot and the cold.

An intentionally bright spark in this pandemic, Sunset Rollercoaster’s third studio album is a buoyant and engaging outpouring of introspection and discovery, self-assurance and connection. Dazzling, dynamic, and forever groovy, SOFT STORM is an oasis in 2020’s seemingly endless torrential downpour: A respite of colorful sound, sweet melody, and earnest emotion ready to empathize and elevate our present mood to soaring new heights.

It’s an invitation to sit back and relax, rest our eyes, and let our imaginations take over: With a Sunset Rollercoaster’s music as our soundtrack, there’s no telling where we might go.

SOFT STORM - Sunset Rollercoaster
SOFT STORM – Sunset Rollercoaster
There came the storm that night
It blew out the city lights
A bit too dark inside
We lit some candlelights up
Nobody’s home
We melt into the candlelights
Poured you some of the wine
And then you filled up mine too
You kept me warm that night
Under those candlelights
Was trippin hard outside
At last a safer place to hide
Whatever happened that night
We just won’t recite
Now those moments we’d had
All snuffed out like those candlelights

Released October 30, 2020, SOFT STORM is our respite and refuge: A sort of musical safe-haven full of vulnerable songwriting and jazzy indie pop. Hailing from Taipei, Taiwan, Sunset Rollercoaster consists of Kuo-Hung Tseng (vocals, guitar), Hung-Li Chen (bass), Shao-Hsuan Wang (keyboard), Tsun-Lung Lo (drums), Shih-Wei Huang (percussion), and Hao-Ting Huang (saxophone). The band originally formed over a decade ago, and following a hiatus in the early ’10s, have been on a fast-rising incline, receiving local and worldwide acclaim after 2018’s sophomore album Cassa Nova and their subsequent international “Business Trip” tour.

Sunset Rollercoaster © Sofia Lee
Sunset Rollercoaster © Sofia Lee



While on paper, SOFT STORM sounds and feels like a natural progression from its predecessor, the new album comes out of a whole different headspace. “After we finished our ‘Business Trip tour’ last year, we started to work on something new – we spent time mostly just jamming and not thinking too much,” the band explain. “Due to COVID, we had additional time to work on the album as we couldn’t tour and we took the chance to write more music; making this album is like a rehab for us from those heavy loading tours.”

“Playing in a band is a dynamic process to know who we are, and a storm is a dynamic outcome of the hot and the cold. The softness is what we caught from making this album, and it is what we need in this special moments during the pandemic.”

Sunset Rollercoaster’s band members didn’t look to their imaginations when seeking out their metaphorical refuge; in fact, they turned to memories from their youth. “Typhoons hitting Taiwan during our summers are common childhood memories for us,” they explain. “In these memories, power shortages and storms were everywhere, we were with our families and loved ones in the dark, but we felt safe and warm. This year is like a storm for us:  We are trying to make our music a soft one to connect to each other, so we can move on to a brighter future.”

Sunset Rollercoaster © Sofia Lee
Sunset Rollercoaster © Sofia Lee



Arriving with the overarching message “Don’t be afraid,” SOFT STORM is a soundtrack to hope, healing, empathy, and unfettered genial optimism.

The instrumental title track opens the record with a grandiose flourish of sound: Synths and guitars tremble and rise, only to fall in succession and rise again as they approach an ever-greater climax. A wave of calm washes over the ears as this crescendo subsides into the encompassing neo-soul / funk fusion of “Overlove,” and Kuo-Hung Tseng sings the album’s intimate first lines:

What do you want me to see
So I could believe
That she’ll never leave
I’ll just break down on my knees
Pray with all my heart
Just to be lost in love
Overlove; overlove
Hold my tongue
So I won’t make you run
Overlove

Sunset Rollercoaster’s lyrics blend wide-eyed innocence and curiosity with sage wisdom and experiential knowing; their themes are full of wonder, yet not once do they come off as naïve. Their imagery is intense and their metaphors evocative, leading the mind to a dreamy expanse across every song, on every listen.

Sunset Rollercoaster © Sofia Lee
Sunset Rollercoaster © Sofia Lee



Whilst pre-release singles like “Candlelight” and “Under the Skin” certainly help capture some of SOFT STORM‘s multifaceted textures, soundscapes, styles, and emotions, nothing compares to the experience of listening to the record on your own from start to finish. Full of outstanding moments for lovers of harmony and lyricism alike, the album moves at its own romantic pace.

Not a dream
We met each other
On that hill
It’s when the wind blows
From the shore
All we have is time
In this world
I shout it out loud
To you
I wanna live with you in the teahouse
Don’t ever leave me in the teahouse
– “Teahouse,” Sunset Rollercoaster

Sunset Rollercoaster offer insight into their own personal highlights as well: “‘Hyperfocus’ is basically a jam song; this song naturally happened. We usually need a lot of time to polish arrangements and instrumental solos, but this one, we just got it all during practices. We didn’t work this one too hard in the studio, and I love the title,” Kuo-Hung Tseng explains. “Our friend Michael Seyer sent me a link one day – it was GTA gaming OST, [and] I love those tracks, so I decided to write something about racing cars when speed is fast enough to a certain level, the driver becomes hyper-focused and ignores time and the rest of the world. In the end, I feel like the whole band were in the hyperfocus state – that’s why we made this song.”

Lose track of time
It’s so quiet
Nothing’s on my mind
Weird clouds far away
I see them in the sky
I’m on my way now
Lose sense of speed
It’s so fast
I left all things behind
Those thunders make me
Wonder what’s in the sky
I put the pedal down
Hyperfocus
On those things I wouldn’t care
Like raindrops on your black hair
Forever I could stare




SOFT STORM closes with the impassioned upheaval “Candlelight,” bringing to the fore all the throes of the storm outside while still keeping them at bay and out of arm’s reach. By far the most intense song on the album and a fitting thematic finale, the track – featuring South Korean artist Oh Hyuk (stylized OHHYUK) – is as dramatic as it is stirring; an arousing, spiritual overhaul that seems to confront the darkness with light. Pulsing bass tones fill the air with unsettled energy as soothing vocals build greater and greater, eventually overtaking the bass notes and injecting a sweeter harmonic warmth into a once-cold space.

The closing lyrics are a comforting reminder of the sanctity and sanctuary of our safe space:

You kept me warm that night
Under those candlelights
Was trippin hard outside
At last a safer place to hide
Whatever happened that night
We just won’t recite
Now those moments we’d had
All snuffed out like those candlelights
Sunset Rollercoaster © Sofia Lee
Sunset Rollercoaster © Sofia Lee



For Sunset Rollercoaster, their album’s takeaway is simple: They hope listeners come away from SOFT STORM feeling “the tenderness during these chaotic times.”

Sunset Rollercoaster’s music is a reminder that no storm, no matter how great, can take from us our humanity; our ability to empathize, to emote, to connect with one another, and to use these tools to overcome whatever obstacles may be in our way. We will always have each other.

Armed with such a strong, soulful message, how could anyone not fall for this album? Sunset Rollercoaster have made a seminal, humanizing work that we can continue to look to for strength and guidance long after the COVID-19 pandemic is behind us. Experience the full record via our below stream, and peek inside Sunset Rollercoaster’s SOFT STORM with Atwood Magazine as the band goes track-by-track through the music and lyrics of their stunning third album!

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:: stream/purchase SOFT STORM here ::
Stream: ‘SOFT STORM’ – Sunset Rollercoaster



:: Inside SOFT STORM ::

SOFT STORM - Sunset Rollercoaster

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Soft Storm 柔性風暴

風暴即將來襲,重複的弦律就有如旋轉的層層風牆。
A soft storm approaches. Behind the wall of clouds, mysterious melodies conspire to spiral together, to stir up the listless air.

Overlove 終愛過

當愛情已經過載,只能祈求上蒼,在人類有限的感官世界裡仍能超脫並獲得最終的救贖。
Love floods the human heart, overwhelms its limits. How can we be saved? Will the gods finally whisper an answer into our ears?

Under the Skin 皮下之芳

在輕鬆迷幻的節奏與旋律底下是揭露著人性原始的渴望轉化為肌膚之下的深淵之聲,呢喃著關於欲望的瑣事。
There is something else here, beneath this wonderful skin. And when it joins me in song, I understand that it is both the root of all longing, and the source of all insanity.

Passerby (ft. Michael Seyer) 過客

晶瑩剔透的湖面上,似乎有一層淡淡的薄霧,我們相約湖邊,一切景物依舊,卻人事已非。
We vowed to meet here again, where the thin mist gathers itself across the crystal lake. Those words — you — I will never forget, even if every other thing changes, and even though our love was bound to break.

Teahouse 茶屋

靜坐屋內,泡杯茶,遙望窗外,午後陣雨飄散,月亮已然高掛,遙想遠方的你。茶屋是能與相愛的人平靜地生活的象徵,下行的音階有如滴落屋頂的雨滴。
I dream of the best love for you, and I. Peacefully sipping tea together, after the gentle rain has washed everything clean, with all the time we could ever want and a burnished moon perched high above our teahouse on the hill. But you are so far away, now.

Overlove (Rehab)  終愛過 (療癒版)

鋼琴與合成器交織而成的演奏段落,重新改編了Overlove原曲的演奏旋律,以不同的氛圍提出了關於救贖的可能性,演奏音樂就是一種自我對話與療癒。
The piano speaks to the synth about love and salvation. The synth shares what she knows about what it really means to heal. They both agree that this is the right time for me to be saved.

Hyperfocus 超級福克斯

在急速奔馳的車室之中,專心致志於窗外迅速流逝的風景,遠方飄來的一朵烏雲,就有如她深暗的髮絲,這趟旅程的終點究竟在哪呢?
Inside the speeding car, I bear witness to those weird, beautiful clouds looming outside and focus. In truth, I could have stayed here forever with you.

Midnight with Paul 保羅相伴午夜時

是飛車音樂路上的好夥伴,那是一個春天的夜晚,與Paul聊天與演奏音樂是充滿力量的,是平靜又富有希望的力量。
A clear, spring night and a pleasant chat. Our dear friend Paul is making music with us again. We all feel calm. We all feel hope.

Candlelight (ft. OHHYUK) 燭光

夜晚風暴來襲,城市陷入一片混沌與黑暗,你我安靜地陪伴彼此,我們點亮了只屬於今夜的燭光,傾訴內心深處的感觸。
That night the storm came, we heard chaos knock, knock, knocking on the outside. Inside, we cuddled in the dark, quiet, our hearts lit by candlelight.

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:: stream/purchase SOFT STORM here ::

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SOFT STORM - Sunset Rollercoaster

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📸 © Sofia Lee

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