The immediate thing that strikes as soon as the opening moments of the first and title track ‘Emergence’ spreads its welcoming arms is the quality of musicianship of the members of The Sun Explodes. Like a beckoning finger the instrumental’s guitar and synth flows invite the listener in as a solid pacey beat leads into an expansive electronic soundscape. The track is brief but big at the same time and an enticement into the debut album of the UK rock band that is hard to resist.
The Carlisle based quintet with Emergence and its nine distinctly varied tracks draw on an array of influences and genres to create a release that as a package and within each song is an aural kaleidoscope of sounds, ideas and creativity. The opener alone suggests a diverse approach and it is soon confirmed by the mighty track ‘Honour Bound’. The track pushes strongly with heavy riffs, stylised breakdowns and a tight post hardcore edge as it progresses, all wrapped in a weave of vibrant synth and electronic strokes from vocalist Dave Maclachlan.
The vocals of Maclachlan are another soon discovered aspect of the band that is impressively strong, his delivery and sound is varied and controlled with often a very distinct feel of Howard Jones about them. Alongside the creative interplay and striking strokes from guitarists Alex Harris and Nick Yule, plus their solid backing vocal harmonies and well timed growls and shouts, the effect is balanced, forceful, and very satisfying.
As mentioned the tracks are diverse to each other and within their individual walls, ‘Resplendence’ a fine example. It is a progressive tinged track with keys that soar feeding emotive caresses into the ear as a stirring rhythm attack from drummer Jamie Harris stands powerfully out. The sign of a truly skilled drummer is usually clearly shown in slower paced and more emotionally led songs and here he combines a powerful and diverse rhythm with a control to compliment the soulful sounds. Maclachlan shows another string to his vocal bow too with high pitched harmonies that come out of classic rock vocal styles but actually remind of eighties vocalist Sal Solo from Classix Nouveux even more.
Next track ‘We’re Not Soldiers’ moves the playing field once more, fusing a God Forbid/Pendulum mix with a touch of The Browning to their own unique melodic and at times sorrowful sound on the track. Next two songs ‘Ignition’ and ‘Line One’ hit hard with a barrage of stirring rhythm, lifting riffs and eagerly instinctive melodies. Once more the drums place a framework of immense quality for the rest to feel free with their expressive play, and especially on the second of the two, bassist Mike Walker takes centre stage with his probing bass as the track explores and changes guises around him and Harris. ‘Line One’ is the standout track for many reasons but also shows the one flaw that stops the release being an odds-on challenger for album of the year.
To call it a flaw is actually wrong it is more a feeling of distraction. This track highlights more than most but at times there is a feeling of too much going on within a song, keeping the listener wrong footed too much never allowing them to settle into the track and find the glories each hold. Subsequent plays obviously solve this and in that is rewarding but in a world where instantaneous appeal is the only thing that works with an attention spanned challenged audience it could be a problem for the band. As I say not a flaw but maybe a slightly leaner idea approach to tracks could capture those with as much focus as Michael Stipe in a harem, for others the songs are as they should be and it is hard to disagree.
Emergence is as impressive as they come and though it needs a little concentrated attention to fully discover its inspired glory the effort is more than worthwhile. With a tweak or too The Sun Explodes will be massive, though actually with this release they will be well on their way as long as people give them the chance they deserve.