The Sunshine Underground album launch, Birthdays, London 22nd April 2014
It is impossible not to sound like bands and sounds of yore, yet there are ways of acknowledging the past without resorting to pastiche. Not for this band the Year Zero of Oasis or millennial posh-punks The Strokes, their heritage stems more from the punk funk sound from New York (70s and 00s) and with the new album a pristine 80s sheen. Produced by desk jockey du jour, Ross Orton, (Kid Acne, Fat Truckers, Arctic Monkeys) there is a definite 80s ‘New Pop’ sheen to the new album. Echoes of Howard Jones, Japan and Human League abound, but, they are more than a blend of nostalgia.
Lumped in lazily by the NME under that unmissed ‘nu rave’ banner they are not what you would call prolific; this is a band that likes to take its time. It’s hardly a gap of Kate Bush proportions; releasing only three albums in 9 years, Raise the Alarm (2006), Nobody’s coming to save you (2009) and now the self-titled third; it’s better to get it right than churn out any old product. Yeah, you Franz Ferdinand.
The Shundergrind hailing from Leeds via Telford are showcasing their new long-player at Birthdays, situated in Dalston, the capital’s hotbed of craft ales, beards, pastel turn-ups, start-ups and roll ups. The crowd are slow to get going, but, ease into it. Opening naturally with ‘Start’ it signals a seamless progression from their catalogue, evincing a druggy, clubby vibe, all fat bass and wistful glances across the youth club dance floor.
‘Finally we arrive’ has Nick Rhodes’ fingerprints all over it, languid synths and mood, still the sound of the future now.
The Same Old Ghosts begins with a chugging, throbbing bass that gathers bloops and beeps building to a crooning falsetto. ‘It Is Only You’ begins with the familiar Casio VL-1 pre-programmed beats famously used by Trio on Da Da Da.
Vince Clarke is arguably the most underrated musician of the last 30 years and ‘Turn it on’ is brilliant in its Erasureness. Rightly lauded for his stuff with Depeche Mode and Yazoo, Clarke’s output with Erasure is rightly (if unknowingly) celebrated here. All Andy Bell swooning and yearning this song deserves to be this year’s ‘Get Lucky’; a dancefloor hit from Croatia to Crawley.
Closing with their first single from 2005, ‘Put you in your place’ and ‘I aint losing any sleep’ they seem antiquated compared to the new batch. Still good songs, but lacking the oomph, pizzazz and newness of the new songs.
The new album is out 19th May. Snap it up.