Although the distance from London to Cumbria is little more than what the average American would happily drive to purchase food, to British minds and cars it is a tremendous, almost obstructive distance. But this being said, living in easy reach of a particular music scene is not always beneficial to a band’s development. As without the motivating influences of hunger and the need for opportunity; the ambition to develop and create can wither and die. Being Carlisle natives, there is certainly no chance of this happening to The Sun Explodes.
Their latest EP; The Calm, The Storm is as vibrant a testament to compulsive creativity as I can recall hearing. From its delicate, dreamy introduction it fizzes with a precious and rare sense of need. It is full of the propulsive desire to form an exterior monument to internal flux. TSE’s style sways with sylvan grace between broad 90’s Pop-Rock and the sinuous modality of Tech-Metal. That they manage to complete this fusion without sounding trite or clichéd should be reason enough for them to be celebrated. But add the insistent and invasive charm of their songs and you will find yourself amazed at their lack of wider fame.
Coming across like 1995 vintage Radiohead playing songs written for them by Tears to Fears, this EP is a subtle and alluring progression from their last release. Simultaneously more direct and expansive, each song blooms with an epic grandeur, validated by its roots; deep in the mire of commonplace disappointment. Much like Rush found fame through their ability to craft songs which summed up the plight and success of the working man, TSE’s golden moments shine the light of empathy on the torments of modern life: waves of conflict and confusion; the desire for expansion, progression and love but without the means to achieve it.
Despite the depth of emotion which runs through the whole of this disk, do not assume that it is in any way soft or unassuming. TSE control their music with a muscular prescience; a calculated control redolent of watching a skilled doorman shepherding a serious trouble-maker onto the street. Riffs lurch and slide but at their precise discretion, allowing sinuous drums to form formidable, yet decorative, foundations.
The vocals provided by front-man Dave Maclachlan are high and febrile, yet guided with an impeccable sense of timing. He shapes melodies that refract like crystal, seduce like velvet and adhere to the mind like Velcro. His voice, full of the naiveté of experience stands as a sincere emotional counterpoint to the dynamic drive generated by his band-mates.
There is a lustre to the music created by The Sun Explodes which belies their somewhat lowly status. It is professional and passionate, which is true of a lot of bands, but theirs is filled with real and identifiable concern for what effects normal people every single day; if not in practice then certainly in memory. For at its heart, The Calm The Storm is music for the casually disenfranchised, the lost and the alone. For those people forever in search of elusive solace.
But with their pervasive, infiltrating energy TSE are able to bypass the usual human filters to instil a lingering sense of empathy; that every person, emotion or problem can be understood, dissected and solved through the simplicity of open hearted declaration.
The more I listen to this EP the more I am astounded that TSE aren't headlining large alternative festivals or being championed on national radio as one to watch for the Yummy Mummies and BoHo types heading to Glastonbury. Their sound strikes a perfect balance between soulful emotionality and serious musicians Rock. They appeal to the heart, they appeal to the head, have haunting and androgynous vocals, songs that speak to directly to experience and by virtue of their residence could never be anything but themselves.
Come on world, catch up.
– John Whitmore