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The Sound - Shock Of Daylight/Heads & Hearts review (The Mick issue no.4 2004)

date: Apr 10, 2004



And so after their experimental phase went awry, The Sound bounced back with more controlled recordings during 1984, and it works. Through the ‘Shock Of Daylight’ EP we find bright indie rock, full of toppy guitar and artful contrast, where the grim lyrics return with more finesse but the tunes are well crafted. ‘A New Way Of Life’ is a bit mimsy, with bland lyrics, but the mild butting ‘Dreams Then Plans’ sways well, and the real winner is the one dark, forbiddingly cold ‘Winter’ with light synth frosting being the only element added to twangy guitar and Borland’s slow, clear vocals.

Through ‘Head And Heart’s the variety is cool, the ideas neatly framed and you have a natural balance between some burnt-in blandishments about relationship downers, and more heart-wrenchings, which work with slower fuses. It’s all rather graceful, even though the grip is back, with ‘Whirlpool’ seeing power built cautiously, ‘Total Recall’ allows the vocals to shape its direction, and angst flares up in ‘Burning Part Of Me’. At their simplest, in ‘Mining For Heart’, they’re also at their most adventurous, and those songs alone make the album worthwhile. The rest of the songs, including the bonus tracks, all come from an arena of soft-boiled rock, where the lyrics are intelligent but feel flattened through experience, and the jumbled attempts at jagged moods don’t quite work, and there’s one good reason for that. As the song ‘Love is Not A Ghost’ amply illustrates, The Sound had simply been caught up by too many other bands. This song reminds me of the early recordings of Furniture, and it would be bands like that who used keyboards better, and an army of bands were lining up who hadn’t lost the capacity to really create a storm on vinyl. Which The Sound clearly had.

Their rampant energy had gone, but they couldn’t find it in themselves to endlessly go for the blackest route into lyrical torment with music to match, and who, frankly, can blame them? This leaves them tinkering at the periphery with limited sound resources. A lot of the other tracks sound like weak 80’s rock music, with the quality of Borland’s voice, and its familiairty, being the thing holding the vessel together. The Sound were nearing the end, but on this record there are still enough quality moments for you to take it very seriously. 

2004 - Mick Mercer - The Mick issue no.4 

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