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The Sound - Shock Of Daylight review (Melody Maker 7-4-1984)

date: Apr 7, 1984



This is the way it sometimes goes: a group plays its way into the frame, cheered on by the enthousiasm of the music press, which always likes to think it knows a good thing when it hears one. Albums are championed, success is predicted; record companies look forward to emphatic ticks in profit margins.

Increasingly, however, the public isn't quite so easily convinced. At first the groups supporters stand their ground, berating the public for it's cloth cared insensitivity. But the public refuses to budge, carries on buying Howard Jones albums. By the time the group releases maybe its third LP, alarm bells are ringing. And, if that record stalls at the counter, heads start to roll: critics become embarrassed by their original declarations, start looking for new favourites. More often then not, the group ends up on the heap, its dreams of glory vanquished by the harsh realities of a commercial market place that demands immediate returns, obvious definitions of success. Crushed by the wheels of industry, the group is simply discarded and the world moves on, not terribly touched by the group's demise. 

This is very nearly what happened to The Sound, but The Sound refused to go under. The Sound didn't flounder on the indifference that followed "All Fall Down"; they reorganized their lines of attack, prepared themselves for fresh assaults. The result is. of course, "Shock of Daylight" what we call these days a mini-LP": six tracks, 30 minutes of bright, highly-charged music that stands as a defiant testimony to The Sound's reliance, their determined reluctance to exit on cue for premature obscurity. As I was saying last week "Shock Of Daylight" contains probably the most fearlessly outgoing music The Sound have produced since"Jeopardy", their urgent, ferociously agitated debut album. The vivid spark that ignited the likes of 'Heartland" and "Heyday" illuminates everything here, survives even the more cautious moments of Pat Collier's generally clear and efficient, but occasionally conservative production. Not that anything lingering quibbles about production values should delay us, anyway songs as good as these would doubtless sound sharply effective even if they'd been played through a bungalow intercom system. 

With the exception of the stark, ominous worryingly brooding "Winter", which sets Adrian Borland's plangent vocal against a solitary acoustic guitar and shifting planes of synthesized keyboards. "Shock Of Daylight" bursts out of the can with a cavalier spirit, plunging headlong into aggressively melodic territories with a positively heroic sense of it's own momentum. The record rattles off the deck with the pneumatic clatter of "Golden Soldiers" which finds Adrian Borland delivering an impassioned declaration of love over slurred brass fanfares, pugnacious bass and thoroughly hectic drumming. A breathless juggernaut of rhythm, "Golden Solders" successfully buries the idea of The Sound as some dreadfully dour old conglomerate. "Golden Soldiers" introduces a new Sound: more alert to the physical nuance of music, frankly, it sounds like The Sound have discovered sex and the arch poetics of yore have been put on hold, indefinitely. Impossibly seductive, sparkling with a visible beauty, carried by a rhythm section's lingering nudge, "Longest Days" is simply breathtaking in its confident simplicity. Borland's guitar strafes the song's insidious melodic contours, provides a clinging, haunting chorus that tugs at the old heartstrings with an almighty heave that demands the listener's unremitting attention. 

Its panorama sweep is further echoed by the irresistible, windswept vision of "Counting The Days" (a forthcoming 45) whose gorgeous melodic swirl is wonderfully stirring; epic, without a hint of pomposity; grand, without being overblown, proud without a hint of breast beating insincerity or flag waving sentimentality. "A New Way Of Life" and "Dreams Then Plans" are similarly measured, highly emotional but never contrived, dramatic, flaring, and illustrious. Catapulted into gear by torrential choruses and punctuated by Borland's keen, abortive guitar and his greatly improved singing. "Shock Of Daylight" is more than another example of the new rock mainstream recently defined by, say, U2 and Big Country. It's further evidence that the tide is changing, that the emphasis might at last be switching from the merely pretty, the glossily cosmetic. And this time The Sound may be in no danger at all of being washed up in fashion's perilous wake. 

Allan Jones (Melody Maker 7-4-1984)

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