31 (noisy) songs
15 April 2013
ICP Studios, Belgium; Gun Factory, London
Perfect Sound Forever
Singles from Graceless
“Wishes” (15 August 2011)
“Back In Bloom” (21 November 2011)
“Flowers” (1 April 2013)
“The Big Blue” (20 May 2013)
Do people realize how hard it is to write catchy pop music? I mean, the press so far is almost unanimously going “yeah, Sulk is a good revivalist band”. Do the music journalists encounter such great volumes of good pop that they get all superior when it’s easy to pinpoint the influences? Alternately, do these people enjoy the frustration of not knowing how to describe music? Is it important to become all cryptic and poetic and use obscure references? The press is just too predictable and unoriginal and desperate to justify its existence, me thinks.
I couldn’t elaborate too much on Sulk‘s similarities to other bands. I’d say, it sounds like a mix of Stone Roses and Bluetones with Adorable. Baggy shoegaze means lots of melody, tons of effect drenched guitars and total bliss. This combination has possibly already been concocted before, but it’s not an easy sound to be successful in, alright? Because it’s not about the sound in this case. It’s about songcraft.
The band is from London and has been around for some time in one form or another. I can’t find their previous reincarnations right now, but I’ve found some songs on YouTube a few months back featuring some members, so they are not that young. Last year or so they started releasing singles, and videos to go with them, but they weren’t exactly in a rush with that. Along with the traditional hype-making techniques, they kept giving reports on the progress of the album and all of the gigs etc, keeping everybody (namely, me) in anticipation for the actual work and doubts whether it would be worth it. That’s a big challenge. And I am glad to find that Graceless lives up to the suspense they have created.
I’m not sure I can put in words how well they have atoned for the slight delay. You can just listen to it and see if you enjoy it or not. I think you will. The songs (all ten) are catchy as fuck. Inspired and addictive compositions, carefully constructed into lushly orchestrated 3-minute pop gems, filled with guitar hooks, wall-of-sound production (refer to next paragraph), ethereal vocal harmonies and captivating rhythms. They could all very well be an A-side in their own right and, in turns, each one is becoming “my favourite” of the album. Beautiful sing-alongs to dance to, rejoice, smile and daydream with a beer in one hand and a joint in the other. This is the soundtrack to reveries of a beautiful summer spent with Marian when it’s not summer and you’ve never met anyone called Marian.
Not a wholly irrelevant detail is that the producer for Graceless is Ed Butler, who has produced a bunch of celebrated albums for the scene that celebrates itself and other scenes too (Souvlaki by Slowdive, Everything’s Alright Forever by the Boo Radleys, a couple by Spiritualized, a whole bunch by Suede). The sound and arrangements are flawless.
I was really missing a nice, satisfying pop album like this one. One that is flowing so effortlessly through my ears and into my brain, from beginning to end. Graceless is not a deeply complicated album. This is an album that celebrates music itself and perhaps I will “consume” it quickly. But that’s just how pop is and I need it.