This project from Sundodger brings audiences a fine balance between classic rock and roll, and the perhaps more widely accessible indie-rock anthems of the last twenty years. Too Much Too Soon as an opener lays that foundation well. Short verse lines and a thick, distorted and alternating electric guitar riff pave the way towards a mega hook section that begs for you to join in. The songwriting is on point and the musicianship and structuring represents it well. This track veers off in a naturally artistic manner, leaning on the one hand towards the likes of Led Zeppelin, leaning on the other – during the latter moments – in more of a Pink Floyd direction. At every step it works, it keeps you interested, refusing to fall victim to predictability.
Banner Days follows and sees things move towards the more emotional, softer rock side of life. The vocal drives things but there’s a worthy contrast between the lightness of that and the weight of the guitar sound. You start to form an understanding of the Sundodger approach to creativity. Like Me afterwards keeps the mood reflective and begins with a simple, calming guitar riff. There’s a sudden space within which you can gather your thoughts, the gentler vocal delivery works beautifully and lays bare some poetic lyrics. As things grow, further dashes of passion appear in the piano and the change in melody, as well as the hook concept; it all intrigues.
Shayla turns back towards the memorable anthemic characteristics of mainstream, festival rock. A live show is where this type of track would work wonders. And still, the lyrics are as considerate as ever – unexpected and entrancing in making you want to see the story-line through to the end. Keeping a Light On then creates a more progressive ambiance, reverb-soaked and elevated on its own heartbreaking story-line and emotion than anything else. Epitaph follows and keeps you thinking of these underlying ideas and experiences that make up the project. Music sounds different when there’s depth to it, whether that’s hurt or passion or empowerment, or all of this combined. Epitaph is a brilliant song, the hook has a Foo Fighters feel that just satisfies and screams on your behalf.
Last Stand softens the aura and welcomes back more of an Elbow sound. The music has a fullness, a distant warmth that comforts as its lights flicker in the darkness. Grace after this throws in a simple but effective guitar riff, a back and forth between just a couple of chords – an infectious level of rhythm and an unmissable rhyme-scheme to match. The verses hit harder than the hook section, making for an interesting, unusual structural choice that gives the track a lot of character.
You can really lose yourself in this album as a playlist, the music is thick and loud and lets you escape reality for a while, but at the same time – the songs deal with issues of the heart; things that matter, things that affect people, things that aren’t always talked about. Do No Harm comes in at the right time as you consider this. The melody has a softly haunting presentation, as do the descriptive details within. The band paint a clear picture before you, a story to witness unfolding as the music plays. The hook section is brilliant and breaks the tension in a clever way.
Echoes finishes things up with a gentle touch of acoustic honesty. There’s something very raw and gritty about this final song. The vocalist feels as if he’s right there in the room with you – the volume has fallen away, things are more discreet and even slightly vulnerable. You connect with the band here, but there’s also a clear level of anticipation about how it all sounds as it pours through. It’s not quite the resolving, door-closing finish you might expect, but it leaves you feeling thoughtful and intrigued – enough so to go back and listen to the playlist once or twice more.
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