It is four years since Portuguese rockers Places Around the Sun caught our ears with the release of debut album, Still Here. It was an encounter which nudged rather than commanded attention, a more forcible invitation coming with its successor Pluto two years later. Now the band has unveiled their third full-length, one built on the potential and successes of its predecessors and quite simply their finest offering by far.
The evolution of sound and intensity in their songs between the first two albums has been pushed even further by Places Around the Sun within their new release, the Lisbon quartet marrying it with their most personal explorations yet. That intimacy has been echoed in the new adventure being self-titled and a lyrical openness which is enhanced by the band’s fusion of grunge, melodic and alternative rock. We cannot say the major inspirations to the band but listening to their music it is easy to suggest Queens Of The Stone Age/Josh Homme has supplied a potent spark though it is a hue which provides a warm glaze to something quite individual.
Linking up with producer Vitor Carraca Teixeira, Places Around The Sun bring their album into view across a windy vista, the Intro’s landscape suggestively barren but warmed by the Western humidity which breathes within the band’s sound. It is a potent invitation into the release, one caressing attention and intrigue before Lost I Am Found saunters in with its melodic wiles and groove bound moves. Alexandre Sousa’s bass is an immediate thick lure, the tangy twines cast by the guitars of João Gomes and António Santos pure temptation. Equally, the vocal tones of the latter are a call to ears with the song a lively but skilfully reined incitement impossible not to find an eager bounce for. The desert rock hues of Homme and co quickly come to mind yet as suggested merely provide a keen scents in the rich and virulent sound of Places Around the Sun.
It is a superb start to the album, the crisp and animated beats of drummer Ricardo Martins as magnetically echoing their potency in the first track in the following captivation that is The Wanted One. The strength in its rhythms and stride is aligned to the soothing warmth of its melodic caress and psych rock nurtured serenade, the song a tapestry of textures and flavours while successor Bury It teases with rockabilly-esque guitar bait before vocals harmonically unite in sultry temptation and guitars uncage heavy rock vines. There is also a touch of Muse to the song as it envelops the senses, again ears and appetite quickly hooked and feasting in the track’s evolving landscape of enterprise.
Through the steely grooves and a prowling bass line, Chasing Tails similarly had an easy time gripping attention, its darker hued twists and electronically frizzled turns eagerly manipulative with Embracer taking as little time to bring animation to the body and encouragement to vocals chords with its virulent energy and enterprise. From every angle both songs had pleasure surging, that slight sense of familiarity as refreshing as the uniqueness cast by the band.
The brief opening calm of Down the Road is soon a torrent of incisive endeavour and rhythmic incitement, bass and drums leading the tide of resourcefully crafted bait which guitars, vocals and electronics are only too eager to add to before Interlude had the imagination composing with its brief but suggestive instrumental. That conjuring of intimation and thought is soon embraced and developed by chance or design by Rising Sun, the track tapping into our interpretation to cast a light bringing drama upon the long shadows which set upon earlier tracks. There is uncompromising buoyancy to the track, its spirit rousing roar the invigorating end to a cycle nurtured across the whole album within a concept which maybe we did not quite pin down but reflects the uneasy but unavoidable union of dark and light that is wrapping the current imposing change in all aspects of life.
Eight concludes things, the song immersing ears in incandesce seduction and bordering on voracious dynamics, again light and dark in sublime accord as Places Around the Sun, like across the whole of their new offering, fascinated and pleasured. The band may still be a bit of an unknown to the wider world but maybe for no longer if their striking album gets the attention it deserves.
The Places Around the Sun album is out now; available @ https://placesaroundthesun.bandcamp.com/album/places-around-the-sun
Pete RingMaster 06/10/2020