WROTE FOR LUCK
Listen Up's Tony - reviews a new track
The future sound of Shoegaze
After a brief hiatus, I am back and raring to go again on the Listen Up new music review blog
I'm a bit late to the table with this review, but there was no way that I could ignore the stupendously brilliant debut EP from Sunstinger, 'Beyond The Frame'.
For those that are unfamiliar with Sunstinger, they are a unique four-piece shoegaze outfit hailing from Scotland. Drawing influences from the likes of Joy Division, Slowdive and The Charlatans, they effortlessly fuse together distinctive cinematic soundscapes with delicious psych-rock melodies and hauntingly epic vocals. The band comprises of mates Taylor Wright (vocals/guitar), Scott Gourlay (guitar), Bill Anderson (bass) and Nick Hernandes (drums).
These four friends are no strangers to the live music scene, having all been in different bands before coming together as Sunstinger in 2018. They have individually toured with the likes of Oasis and The Fratelli's and have earned themselves a cult following among the new music community since the release of their debut single in 2018, Even When - a beautifully crafted, beat driven stunner of a track that harked back to the early 80's sound of New Order. And a song that signalled the future promise of the band
Since the release of Even When, the band have gone from strength to strength, each subsequent single demonstrating a continual growth, maturity and cohesion, creating a sound that is uniquely their own…which is no more evident than on Beyond The Frame. With this 4-track record, they really have made their signature sound their own
This majestically sublime EP really is a thing of absolute beauty.
Kicking off with the subdued but sonically charged, marauding psychedelic anthem Bonnie's Kaleidoscope, you immediately know that you are listening to something very special. With a delicate guitar driven introduction that wouldn't be out of place on a film score, the track gently guides you along, before Taylor Wright's hypnotic, reverb drenched vocals kick in and take you to another place altogether. You are only snapped back into reality by a snappy rhythmic drum beat and a pulsing bass line that suddenly fires into life. The track is so stunningly rendered that the 6-minute run time passes by in the blink of an eye.
Next up is the title track, 'Beyond The Frame'. After that opener it surely couldn't get any better?…well it really fucking does. This is quite possibly my favourite track by the lads so far, taking their own particular psychedelic wall of sound to the next level, this track is at once haunting and captivating…A musical soundscape driven along by a backdrop of a thumping drum beat, elegant guitar hooks, and a mesmerising bass line. Wright's echoing vocals are once again utterly compelling. The forlorn lyrics create a musical narrative that describes someone struggling to deal with the breakdown of a relationship, you can almost feel the desperation as Wright sings 'How do you know when you are feeling alone?'. It is just a truly stunning track.
The third track 'Shadows' is a slight departure from the dream like opening two tracks. A distorted bass line sets the tone, giving it a different energy to the preceding songs. The musical composition is pushed to the forefront on this track, drums and guitar and bass taking centre stage, with the hazy vocal work taking a step back. The song is an unsentimental look at days gone by, how the decisions you make growing up affects the direction your life takes as you get older and how you deal with the hurdles thrown in front of you. It is a defiant 'Fuck You' of a song that suggests that there really is no fate but what you make in life.
The final track to the EP 'All My Friends Are High' is the most anthemic and uplifting song on the record. A rousing finale to a staggeringly good record. Once again, the musical composition takes centre stage here, with the monumental, almost dizzying swirl of guitars interweaved with an infectious drum beat and pulsating bass line, all coming together in glorious harmony. Wright's vocals lend a blissful euphoria to proceedings and you come away from listening to this track feeling positively upbeat. Gourlay, Anderson, Hernandes' and Wright's musicianship across this whole EP is utterly impeccable. The quality, strength and tightness of their playing is undoubtedly what elevates their music.
It is rare that an EP grabs me quite in the way that Beyond The Frame did. It is a record that gets better and better with every single listen! It is almost unfathomable that a record of this quality was written and recorded in just 3 days! Sunstinger are a rarity, a band that already sound so accomplished that it feels like they have been making music together forever…I cannot wait to see what the future brings.