Ahora que parece que Stone Roses parece que van a editar nuevo material después de un largo tiempo, os recomiendo a quienes no los conozcáis, que os acerquéis a la música del quinteto londinense Sulk. Un combo que hace de los sonidos de los primeros noventa su banderín de enganche, aderezándolo con influencias psicodélicas y del Shoegaze.
No illusions es su segundo disco, la continuación perfecta del aún más lisérgico Graceless (2013). En él, aligeran algo su sonido acercándolo más a los Stone Roses más melódicos, pero a la vez se adentran en los parajes más shoegazers. Como bien señalan en The Guardian, “suenan como si TSR hubieran fichado por Creation”
Track By Track: SULK on their new album, No Illusions
Black Infinity (Upside Down)
Tomas: The opening track of the album is also the youngest song on the album. I wrote it after having heard/seen Future Islands on David Letterman, funny enough. The drum beat was initially double time so it was very up tempo. It didn’t feel very SULK so I decided to change it to the current beat which felt more apt. That’s how it became the psychedelic stomper it is now instead of sounding like something from a fitness instruction video from the ’80s.The quiet bit in the middle of the song was initially only four bars, but was changed to a more cinematic eight bars by our producer and good friend Jonas Verwijnen. Good move.
Andy: This song is about that feeling when you just feel at one with the universe. That state where there is no space, no time. Where you feel like you are nothing but that you can do everything and you feel like you have it all figured out, but when someone asks you what that is, you have no idea. It’s impossible to explain. But you just felt it.
The Only Faith Is Love
Tomas: I’ve always been a fan of good pop and psychedelic music so writing this song was a a lot of fun. Similarly to the previous track, the song revolves around a main riff which constantly pops in and out. The solo in the middle of the song was written and recorded in my bedroom on my midi keyboard. I had never really been unfaithful to my guitar before so this was quite a new experience. I guess I liked it so much I added all kinds of shit (horns, shakers, sitars, wah-wahs, strings), which in all fairness, sound pretty decent altogether. The song’s about staying true to your heart. Especially at times when you feel swayed or tempted to do things you know you don’t really wanna do or when you feel fatigued about doing something you’ve had a lot of passion for (this has nothing to do about me cheating on my guitar by the way).
Andy: I heard this song and thought the main riff should be on a sitar, thats my contribution to it. Oh and the New Order-like “woo” in the middle eight.
Tomas: I’m always confused about which part of this song is the chorus and which part is the verse. I suppose it doesn’t really matter as it’s more all about the overall drive and optimism of the tune. This is probably the most quintessential indie pop song on the album.
Andy: The lyrics to this song were based on my mate. I played it to him expecting him to be really happy, and he just looked at me confused. Its about the power in believing in something, even if it is so deluded its never gonna be true, you believe in it so strongly that that kind of overpowers everything else. Sometimes you need that belief, or you never would have got where you are without it. No tricks, no illusions, just an insane belief that something is real.
Tomas: This is about the sad affair of drifting wayward, losing foothold, struggling to find the right place in your life. The kind of stuff we all experience from time to time. The main riff was originally an octave lower and the beat was more baggy. However it all felt a bit parody like so I pretty much immediately scaled it down to a more straight beat and moved the riff an octave higher. The result feels like a mix between The House of Love, Bruce Springsteen and The Jesus and Mary Chain.
Andy: I remember Tomas spent ages asking for the mix to be dirtier and more distorted. It just kept getting cranked more and more and he’d be like “hmm yeah that’s fine”, then the next day there’d be an e mail – “more”.
Tomas: I’ve always loved “Saturday Night” by Suede. It’s an evergreen classic that could’ve been sung by greats like Frank Sinatra or Dean Martin. A song that is able to transcend time and generations. I guess I wanted to do something along those lines (no pressure). Well, whatever the result of my songwriting is here I’m in no position to judge. However, the inspirations and influences for it are true greats. Speaking of inspirations, for the guitar solo, I pretty much went all in for that kind of laid back, borderline cheesy, Roxy Music Avalon-era vibe, which I do have a big soft spot for. It’s probably my favourite bit of the track too. And what the song is about? As Metallica once poetically put it – Carpe Diem, Baby.
Andy: Yeah I’m in a position to judge it and I don’t think this song transcends it’s 3 minute running time, let alone “time and generations”. Talking of Metallica this one’s a bit like the “Fade to Black” or “Welcome Home (Sanitarium)” of the album. The ballad basically.
Tomas: The song’s about hubris, temptation and fall from grace. Like Icarus – flying too close to the sun, or like Adam & Eve – eating the forbidden fruit. I wanted to spin on that theme with an intro that would create a dystopic, post-apocalyptic, wasteland vibe. I used four or five samples which I reversed, time-stretched and put lots of delays on to create this effect. The embryo for this song is pretty old. The only parts I liked from those early demo sessions were the verses, the rest was pretty bad. After we released Graceless I was quite determined to finish this one off as the verses felt too good to go to waste. I’d say the timelapse between the composition of the verses and the choruses are about seven or eight years.
Andy: This is the one that when everyone in the band heard it they were like “we don’t like it” and then when we’d finished it and it was mixed and mastered, everyone was like “we effing love it”. There’s a couple of things I did on my guitar where I had to bend it out of tune with the tuning pegs as I was playing it. I’ve no idea how I’m gonna replicate that live.
Tomas: Ever wondered how Oasis and Blur would sound together..? Like the previous track I started writing this song quite a while ago. It’s the same story here, the chorus came about long after the verses. Nothing more to say really, the song is a pretty straightforward swagmuncher.
Andy: This song is about creativity. Its about being sat there banging your head against a wall, not knowing when creativity is gonna come and bless you with its presence. You can end up doing some weird things while you’re waiting for inspiration – I tippexed my watch white, put all my DVDs in alphabetical order, and fed a stray cat ham for a week. In the end it wouldn’t leave, so I had to spray it in the face with a hosepipe. Probably the saddest thing I’ve ever done. If you’re the cat and you’re reading this – I’m really sorry. It wasn’t my fault, it was creativity’s.
Love Can’t Save You Now
Tomas: A rock/pop number à la The Charlatans, Primal Scream that revolves around a swirly riff (unsurprisingly).
Andy: This song is about the scene. Its kind of about how cliques in the scene are like cults. And like a cult it sometimes doesn’t feel like a healthy atmosphere. Sooner or later you realise you don’t want to waste your energy being inducted into some kind of secret society. Unless they give you a cloak and a cool mask. I’d be in one then.
The Tape Of You
Tomas: The story behind this song begins back in 2008 when Jon played me “Thursday” by Asobi Seksu. I instantly fell in love with it and it really got me inspired me to write something as melancholic, emotive and euphoric. Again, the chorus didn’t come along easily so I decided to take a break from it and move one with something different. It wasn’t until after we released Graceless that I decided to work on this song again. Pretty much straight away I got the chorus right and I finished off the song a lot quicker than I could’ve imagined. I was listening a lot to The House Of Love at that time so there’s a good chance that had something to do with the inspirational bit.
Andy: I wrote the lyrics to this about 4 years ago. It’s about not letting go. Choosing to live inside your head in a memory rather than in the now, and how destructive that can be. You’re just trapped in this cycle, and how comforting that bubble can be but its stopping you from feeling anything else. You’re kind of in stasis and the only way to move on is to stop replaying the memories over and over again.
Another Man Fades Dawn
Tomas: The oldest song on the album. The main core of song was written over ten years ago (before I even moved to London). Inspired by Joy Division and Ride I wanted to go for something that I would describe as a “musical procession”. I wanted to have that type of celebratory and ritualistic feel to it as the song is about how religious organisations become politicised over time, how their origins/ideals become corrupted and how they blind their followers.
Andy: My favourite line on the whole album is in the first line of this song – “So you live for your mother, in the name of the father”. That’s not me being bigheaded by the way. Tomas wrote the lyrics to that one.
- Aug 11Harrogate, UK
- Aug 12Glasgow, UK
- Aug 13Manchester, UK
Mierda de la Buena
Está claro que cuando oigáis el disco de debut de Sulk (gracias, Jose Campos), el combo londinense, todos me vais a decir (incluidos los Pitchforkistas o Nmistas) que ésto no se trata más que de un calco del sonido Madchester, que ya está más que inventado, que no dicen nada nuevo… Y todos llevaréis razón: Graceless es un álbum que podría haberse grabado perfectamente en el año noventa y pocos, que podría haber registrado el mismo John Squire. Pero a mí me ha alegrado enormemente reencontrarme con un grupo de jóvenes empeñados en revivir el espíritu Stone Roses, la chulería de los Happy Mondays o el ingenio de los Soup Dragons.
Cuando escucho Sleeping beauty, Diamond in ashes, Marianne Shrine, Wishes, Down, Back in bloom y por supuesto, la magnífica Flowers, de lejos la mejor del disco… sinceramente, me vuelvo a emocionar como hacía veinte años. Es algo irreprimible. Disfruté mucho entonces de aquel momento, de aquella música, de aquellas sensaciones, y Sulk me las han hecho revivir. No en vano, los chicos han trabajado junto con Ed Buller (Blur, Suede, Pulp, White Lies…) Al oír Graceless recuerdo el There´s no other way del primer trabajo de Blur y me dan ganas de dejarme de nuevo el pelo largo y taparme los ojos con él. Y no me importan nada otros criterios musicales. A mí me gusta. Y mucho: Mierda de la buena.
“How often do you go to a gig early to catch the support act? Do you ever expect to come away loving them? I often approach support acts with a cautious optimism. I never expect to particularly take to them. That changed when I saw Sulk, a London-based five piece band, supporting the Dandy Warhols. They made me stand up and take note and since that moment I’ve followed their progress, eagerly awaiting their debut album. That debut has now arrived in the shape of 10-track long‘Graceless’.
Sulk are a band unafraid to wear their influences on their sleeves. It would be impossible to walk away from listening to this album and not think of The Stone Roses, Oasis and Suede. It’s not at all surprising to learn the album is produced by Ed Buller, who has previously worked with Suede, Blur and White Lies. From the hopeful psychedelic-indie guitar pop riffs to lead singer Jon Sutcliffe’s whimsical voice, Sulk sound like they could have been formed in the early nineties. They take their lead from all the best material of those bands, which is no bad thing and brings exciting results.
Listeners are spoilt for choice of standout tracks here. ‘Wishes’, ‘Sleeping Beauty’, ‘Flowers’, ‘Diamond in Ashes’ and ‘Marian Shine’ all sound good enough to have appeared on any Stone Roses or Suede album. Early single ‘Wishes’ is easily the best track here. Its euphoric tones are reminiscent of Suede’s ‘Animal Nitrate’ and with its catchy chorus it is destined to play over and over in your head for just as long.
As a collection, ‘Graceless’ does have its slower moments but it is at its best during the uplifting, upbeat tracks. That first time I saw Sulk live I said they had ‘ready-for-festival’ tunes, this album does little to disprove that theory. This kind of music is meant to be listened to late afternoon at a summer festival while enjoying an ice cold beer and swaying along with your mates. The ONLY way to listen to ‘Graceless’ is very loudly while the sun is shining, any other environment wouldn’t do it justice.
What works about Sulk is that they manage to tie-in blasts from the past and add a current edge. They manage to make the old sound fresh again and that is no easy task. Debut album ‘Graceless’ may not be uniquely groundbreaking but it marks a solid arrival onto the indie-pop scene. Undoubtedly this is one that will appeal to Britpop fans, especially with the current trend for those old bands reuniting, but there are enough catchy and fun moments to provide a few opportunities for crossover appeal to a mainstream audience. Give it a try, this may well be your album for the summer of 2013 (if that summer ever arrives) (45 Magazine)