Tuesday 12 April 2016

SULK - No Illusions

Article by KevW

It may be stating the obvious a little, but SULK have always been something of a throwback. Both image-wise and in terms of music they channelled the psychedelic end of baggy from the start. So what's remarkable about them is that they also sound relatively unique. Chucking in a few shoegaze sonics helps, but then certain early Charlatans records (amongst others) did the same, so pinning down exactly what gives these guys their individuality is tricky. Could it simply be that there's currently no-one else doing this kind of thing to this high a standard? Whatever their secret, second album, 'No Illusions', doesn't have a duff moment on it.

Fans will no doubt be familiar with single 'Black Infinity (Upside Down)' by now, and it's the spiralling guitar motif of that song that kicks things off, bringing in weighty beats, mysteriously affected vocals and bold production which is really the hallmark of this album as a whole. Although engineered to create the biggest sound possible (whilst neatly avoiding becoming too "stadium"), there's always an unhurried vibe that comes over as totally natural. 'The Only Faith Is Love' adds a touch more edge and throws some retro shapes, but it still glides along with ease.

'No Illusions' really does show that SULK are capable of crafting some outstanding tunes, and the chiming intro to the title-track immediately has your ears pricking up. Possessing ethereal anthemic qualities and effortlessness, it's one of their finest moments, and following it with the equally (if not even more) impressive 'Drifting' makes for an almost life-affirming listen. 'One Day' aims for the stratosphere, and as more of those ringing guitar lines mingle with a soaring chorus, it reaches its target. Again it feels easy, and as we sail through 'Past Paradise', the fuzzy 'Queen Supreme' and the towering 'Love Can't Save You Now' it seems as though we're on cruise-control in the best possible way - as though riding the crest of a wave.

This record doesn't come down from its high until the final strains of 'Another Man Fades Dawn', by which time we've been sucked through a Paisley-powered, booming, kaleidoscopic rabbit hole to a dreamlike space where everything seems fluid and wondrous. The Horrors attempted to take us to a similar place with 'Skying', but 'No Illusions' sounds more like the complete picture. Despite its nostalgic stylings it never feels dated, and quite frankly, it's a joy to become absorbed in.

SULK's website

Buy: 'No Illusions'

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