Thursday, September 06, 2007

Review: Thrushes - Sun Come Undone

Label: Birdnote Records (distributed by Morphius Records (US) / Cargo Records (Europe)

Released: March 13, 2007

Thrushes claim to venerate Phil Spector and to some extent that's clear, but their wall of sound is quite a bit different than his. While Spector focused on straightforward pop perfection, Thrushes takes an alternate route to the same destination.

From the opening track of Sun Come Undone, Thrushes unleash a sonic power that alternates from quiet and subtle to loud and abrasive, though always oddly beautiful. While they do have a certain Spector pop quality hidden deep, almost imperceptibly, under the covers, rearing it's head at times in girl-group drum beats or guitar melodies, their real influence is the noise pop of the early 90s from My Bloody Valentine to Lush. Many bands have tried their hand at this game, but what makes Thrushes special is the way they build their wall of sound. They don't just keep adding layers. Instead, they build three or four layers and then the first layer moves back on top and the cycle continues from soft sweetness to manic cacophony. This wall is at times easy to miss and at others impossible to ignore. Even their pace at which they work varies. They build up slow and patiently at times with unmistakable care in their writing. Other times, they just let loose, unleashing a wild beauty that won't be held back. What's particularly interesting is that no part, not guitar, bass, drums or vocals, seems to lead another. They operate independently as if they are pieces in a complex machine where it isn't clear how they operate in tandem, yet clearly they do. They wrap up the crazy beauty that is Sun Come Undone by pulling an influence that runs beneath the surface throughout a little more to the front. "The Hardest Part" would find as happy a home on the Velvet Underground and Nico as it does here.

It's a dissonant and vaguely unsettling beauty that Thrushes creates. Their formula seems simple: everybody does their own thing and somehow it works out. They have the almost unheard of perfect sense of themselves as a band and it has led to a record that will wash over you with waves of their own sonic ocean.

Rating: 8/10

They're playing their last show with drummer Matt Davis on Friday, September 7 at the Lo-Fi Social Club in Baltimore. Check 'em out if you can.



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