Michigan State University Student Radio

Impact 89FM | WDBM-FM

Michigan State University Student Radio

Impact 89FM | WDBM-FM

Michigan State University Student Radio

Impact 89FM | WDBM-FM


Album Review | Sunburn by Dominic Fike


It has been three years since the release of Dominic Fike’s last album, What Could Possibly Go Wrong. On July 7, Fike released his newest album, Sunburn. This 15-song album is full of passion and so many different styles from singing to rapping, but Fike’s classic alternative sound from What Could Possibly Go Wrong and his EP Don’t Forget About Me, Demos still remains.

Sunburn is probably Fike’s most personal project to date, as he stated on his Instagram, “This album really tore me apart. Most of the songs I made in a house I rented in studio city. I lived alone with no furniture, just a studio, half a bed and a very whole addiction.” 

I have been a fan of Fike’s for a year now and was excited to listen to this album as soon as it came out. Upon first listening, I was intrigued by some of the themes and stories it told. We’re given themes of love and relationships in songs like “Mona Lisa,” “Sick,” “Frisky,” “Think Fast,” “7 Hours” and “Ant Pile.” Other tracks dive into his childhood, drug addiction and tough family life, examples being “How Much is Weed?,” “Dancing in the Courthouse,” “Dark” and “Sunburn.” All these songs are highlighted by Fike’s most emotional song yet, “4×4.” 

I’ll start with the meaning I acquired from “4×4.” It deals with many things about growing up: Death, learning that life is not all sunshine and rainbows and finding how to live the life you want to live. It does this by incorporating powerful lyrics like: 

A million miles to a cemetery /

A flower across your chest /

A tear on a smile as you pray to a sky / 

But it won’t bring back your breath.” 

These lyrics signify loss and death. Following this, Fike sings: 

You know it isn’t the love that you wish for / 

That you were misinformed as a child / 

‘Cause everything in those beautiful stories /

Was only a part of the lie. 

This part of the song teaches us that growing up and living is hard. Nothing is easy; nothing always goes as planned. Many of us have experienced this with relationships, health, school, sports and other hobbies we enjoyed growing up. What I particularly love about this song is that it signifies that we can all work hard and use our self determination to follow our dreams in the lyric “You build your own life story; build your own life story.” We cannot change the sudden things in life but we can choose how we want to live and then work hard to reach our goals.

A key theme I enjoyed from this album is love, and the two songs I’d like to analyze for this are “Sick” and “Mona Lisa.” “Sick” is primarily about falling so hard for someone that you become sick because the feeling is taking you over. “Sick” also interprets how being friends with the person the song is about is hard for Fike because he is in love with them. As many know, friends to lovers can go amazing or it can go wrong. Being around someone you love, but being scared to admit it because you do not want to ruin things can be difficult.

Although “Mona Lisa” is a song for the superhero movie Spider-Man: Across the Spider Verse, it does incorporate the many feelings we have when we have a crush on someone and are in love the same way Miles Morales is with Gwen Stacy in the movie. With lyrics like “Love is when you try to place it out your mind, but you can’t turn a radio down and you can’t think of anyone else” and “Uh-huh, look, I can see your face in the Parisian paintings, The Mona Lisa; I can hear your voice in the streets and the TV stations,” we understand Fike is singing about how hard it is to push someone we really care about out of our head when we have feelings for them. If something just sounds, acts or looks like that special person, we are reminded of them. 

Lastly, I’d like to make note of the personal stories Fike tells in this album. Fike was homeless at one point in his life. He went to jail; his mother went to jail and he has also battled drug addiction. These personal events are first addressed on the opening track, “How Much is Weed?” 

She went to jail and shit went left, and I was left /

I did my best, I needed rest, I got arrested.” 

This details how he lost his mother to prison, needed rest from taking care of his siblings and eventually was arrested for assaulting a police officer.

On the track “Dark,” we learn about dark times in Fike’s life, such as his homelessness in the lyric “I used to sleep in all these trashy cars,” his regrets of past decisions like cheating on his partner in the lyric “I would break promises that I would make to my favorite people, I’d cheat on my favorite bitch and lie through my teeth” and drug addiction in the lyric “I thought it would be different after I left treatment; I stood up to a demon.” These songs certainly showcased deep, vulnerable storytelling from Fike.

Overall, Sunburn is a very good listen and has deep meaning to it. I loved the rapping on songs like “How Much is Weed?,” “Frisky,” “Mona Lisa,” “Dark” and “Ant Pile,” along with the singing on tracks like “Sick,” “Think Fast” and “Dancing in the Courthouse.” Fike truly showed his versatility. Sunburn sticks to sounds from previous work with purposeful autotune, varied instruments and fun alternative beats.         


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