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The Sun Explodes

The Sun Explodes - The Calm, The Storm EP art

The Calm, The Storm

18th May 2015 – Self-released

01. The Calm
02. The Unnatural
03. The Grand Design
04. I Walk Alone
05. Storm Of Light

The Sun Explodes are surely Carlisle’s best chance at musical credibility. Barring 70s rock outfit Spooky Tooth (no, me neither), the northern English town has few claims to fame – yet in this group of committed young men they have something really special. Their last outing, 2013′s We Build Mountains, showed a flair for the theatrical, built around well-written, hard-hitting music and some really gorgeous vocals.

Their new EP The Calm, The Storm certainly picks up where its predecessor left off: the sense of scale is impressive, and opening track “The Calm” is beautifully crisp, gorgeously produced, and vocalist Dave Maclachlan’s suggestively powerful singing expands the track’s scope no end.

Yet, the opening as a whole does feel a little ponderous; or at least a little off-pace. Follow-up “The Unnatural” immediately launches into a fast, stabbing riff that feels like it’s building up to something huge and incredibly satisfying – some face-battering slab of goodness – but whilst its pace remains in the drums, the power drops away drastically. I can’t tell if it’s genius or a bit of a miscalculation, but paired with the extreme delicacy of the opener, it’s a chin scratcher for sure.

The Grand Design” changes things up again; it’s just shy of five minutes-worth of mid-tempo riff-led rock, replete with neither ball-busting pace or the more delicate melancholy that graces much of the rest of the record, and is definitely the most straight-forward track on the EP. The vocal melodies and tempo are intentionally at odds with those of the instruments, and although it works to a degree, I’m a big fan of brevity in the EP format, and it’s perhaps a little too bloated – it goes on maybe a minute too long – but the structure itself is an interesting one.

I Walk Alone” is an absolute saving grace, however. Serving a similar purpose to We Build Mountains closer “Serpentine“, its use of clever word-play and broad, epic instrumentation is true testament to the talents of the members, who are in full swing here. Equal parts groovy and emotionally resonant, it laments the heartache of broken relationships, and the dichotomy of feelings following separation.

As ever, the talents of frontman Dave cannot be overstated. Whether he’s crooning over the stripped back sections in the opener and closer, or soaring dramatically over epic leads, he’s a real gem. His lyrics on this release evoke some serious melancholy, and the imagery (particularly of “The Unnatural“) is top notch.

With some fantastic individual parts, The Calm, The Storm is no slouch – but it’s a bit disjointed at times; like an album’s worth of ideas condensed into not quite enough songs. It isn’t the worst problem to have, and they’re good ideas at that – but perhaps not executed as well as the band are capable of. There’s no cause for concern – The Sun Explodes still have the chops – but this outing isn’t quite up to their impeccable standards.