The Sunshine Underground - Nobody's Coming to Save You
Alex Nelson 02/02/2010
Back in the hazy years of 2006-2007, when The Sunshine Underground were first beginning to make their mark on the music industry, Britain was in the oppressive grip of the NME driven scene-craze 'Nu-rave,' under which banner The Sunshine Underground were unfairly labelled. Unfairly not because they didn't deserve the tag, but because in the three years or so that have since passed, the fad has, unsurprisingly, crumbled in a cloud of blogosphere retrospect and left such bands in the dust. The Sunshine Underground were one such band, perhaps not enjoying the same amount of coverage as their slacker scene-mates Klaxons because of their lack of brightly coloured clothes and fashionable hair, but with their second album, they remind us that decent music can and should be enjoyed regardless of false cultural contexts.
The album opens with Coming To Save You, a rousing call to arms and easily the strongest track on the entire record. Mean sounding fuzz bass provides structure for the misfiring guitars to cling to, all delay pedals and discordant chimes, before the obligatory Sunshine Underground disco hi-hat makes its first appearance. The song explodes out into a big sounding chorus, which unfortunately recalls some of the recurrent banality of now defunct British indie rockers Boy Kill Boy. Give it time though, and a brilliant vocal nuance saves the refrain completely, allowing you to forget any brief uncertainties you may have had, and get back into enjoying the song.
Second track Spell It Out comes on like the synth driven disco stylings of latter day Franz Ferdinand, before an admittedly annoying vocal chant gives way to yet another sprawling chorus, which you'd be forgiven for thinking is straight from any recent Muse album. Such is its apparent influence, grandiose pronunciations doubling up upon themselves to give you a huge sense of grandeur, there's even the old arppegiating keyboard trick in there to fool you even further.
We've Always Been Your Friends harks back to 'Underground classics such as Dead Scene and Put You In Your Place from debut album Raise the Alarm, whilst In Your Arms announces itself to the world in a style reminiscent of Gossip's plenty-of-cowbell-drums, minimalist funk bass and twanging guitars.
Are those guitars that sound like synths, or synths that sound like guitars? Either way it's the opening bars of Here It Comes, a U2-esque (but somehow in a good way) a micro saga of a song, uplifted by Craig Wellington's inspiriting vocals. Next up is One By One, a track that starts off life as a deceivingly straightforward disco-punk stomper, before hitting the listener with yet another one of the album's multiple huge choruses, lifting the song to develop it into almost another entity entirely, before the drums stutter the song to a stop and bring us nicely onto a quiet comedown in the form of The Messiah, a blissfully lazy snoozer of an album closer. Guitars drenched in reverb and echo effects reinforcing the frontman's stretch for those higher notes, crescendoing in places in a flurry of cymbal crashes and layered electrics providing a fitting demotion to the record.
While not being wholly original, a departure from the norm, or indeed offering little in the way of new tricks, this album is certainly an enjoyable listen, full of varying musical pace that will make it easy for you to find at least one song you like. Fans of The Sunshine Underground's first album will certainly find pleasure in this, and while its appeal may not be universal to everybody at first, once you're in it's definitely an entertaining 45 minutes. Here's to 'Nu-nu-rave!'