Sunday, August 17, 2008

In these distracting times, it's particularly satisfying to find a truly addictive new album - one that takes a hold and doesn't let go; that you just have to hear over and over again. In recent months, the two albums that have really grabbed a hold of these here ears have been Pluramon's The Monstrous Surplus and I'll be the Same by Sun.

Mentioning the two albums in tandem is particularly relevant, as they're both essentially indie-pop records made by experimental artists. Pluramon is the rock-and-pop-focused project of multimedia journeyman Markus Schmickler. I'll be the Same, meanwhile, is album number two from the Australian duo of Chris Townsend
and renowned experimental guitar-and-electronics manipulator Oren Ambarchi

Now, I don't know if I've mentioned Oren Ambarchi before but I'm rather fond of his work. Having said that, it must be confessed that Sun's self-titled debut album was not all that great. Townsend and Ambarchi apparently went out of their collective way to make the most straightforward record they could, suppressing their avant impulses, whenever they arose. The results essentially sounded like Galaxie 500 without Kramer's production. The LP's main saving grace was a bonus disc which set a host of guest remixers loose on the songs.

With I'll be the Same, Sun have clearly found the confidence to just go with the flow, allowing their gift for pop hooks coexist with their restless need for invention. Actually, "coexist" is too wishy-washy a term for what's happening on these six drifting, shifting songs. Sure, the tunes and arrangements sound sunny but there's a real undertow of unease and discontent here that keeps the interest level high throughout. And would it be too fanciful to suggest that this quality is quintessentially antipodean? The sampled poolside chatter on "Bruise Things" would certainly suggest so.

The opening track - "Mosquito" - is the most sublimely catchy tune I've heard in quite some time, piling hooks upon hooks - seemingly more with every listen. "Help Yourself" starts off as post-Jandek free-folk scrabble but develops into a pop song in a manner which is truly witty and ingenious. "Right Now" sounds like Surf's Up era Beach Boys re-imagined by Ween. Elsewhere, there are hints of Pavement, Fennesz, The Animal Collective and so on and so forth.

And so there you have it - a truly addictive new album. It's not really all that new though, to be honest. I'll be the Same was actually released on CD by Staubgold and on LP by Important last year. But it eluded my grasp for so long that I only just heard it. I could never find a record store that stocked the LP and the MP3s didn't ever show up on Solarseek. Eventually, I ordered the LP direct from Important. So here it is, on milky white vinyl, steadfastly refusing to leave my turntable.

Helps that the weather's been so good.


David said...

Agreed. "I'll Be the Same" captured me a few months ago, in february I think, and I've returned to it during the summer. Great album.

Biggie Samuels said...

Seems like it should have made a bigger splash than it did. How often does a record come along that's as catchy and as inventive as this one? I guess it got lost among the general outpouring of Oren Ambarchi-related releases.