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  • Writer's pictureAndrew Belt

ALBUM REVIEW: Sourface - The Eternal Summer

Anglo-Parisian quartet’s debut oozes with unbridled positivity

All-out positivity on record often treads a fine line between that joy radiating to the listener or being irritating. Cream’s ‘I Feel Free’ and Nirvana’s ‘Lithium’ are examples of the former while last year’s LIGHT+ by Crystal Fighters is an example of the latter - overly polished production, lyrics light on depth and heavy on positive platitudes with songs irritating rather than elevating.

This conundrum when creating overtly positive music is perhaps best exemplified by ‘Happy’ - the track by Pharrell Williams which was the most successful in 2014 but reviled in equal measure.

Which brings us onto The Eternal Summer - the debut album by Anglo-Parisian quartet, Sourface, which documents the band’s freedom from depression and adversity. The album is also based on a concept they put to paper via a comic strip which sees the band as heroes in foiling their manager, Tony Bossi’s attempts to control the population through creating a machine which controls the sun and gives life to this fictional world. The band conspire to fill the machine with so much sunshine that it explodes, at which point the world is blessed with an eternal summer.

This celebration of sunshine and positivity, more often than not, successfully negotiates the balance between being a compelling listen versus becoming irritating. Flitting between French and English, Ludo Aslangul’s vocals are varied and strong, while a plethora of brass and string instruments add theatre to Alex Brunstein’s bass, Matt Isles’s keys and Tom Waldron’s percussion.

Seeking sunshine: Sourface (photo credit: Louis Oliver Byrne)

The opening quartet of songs, in particular, showcase the very best of the band. ‘Solaire’ is first up - a fun indie dance track which lollops playfully as Aslangul sings in French. This dancey beginning is then abruptly halted by the powerful post-punk of ‘Lizard King’, with its ominous soundscape and strings similar to how Faith No More incorporated classical instrumentation. The variety continues on track three with ‘Careless Love’ seeing Aslangul doing his best Freddie Mercury impression on an epic piano ballad which builds to an impressive crescendo. Next is ‘Sonny’ - a six-minute jazz odyssey which begins like a skiffle number and sees Aslangul try to dig his friend out of the hole he’s in.

After these opening tracks, the songs battle against becoming twee in their execution, the two best pulling this off being ‘Lachez Prise’ and ‘Vin Rose’; the former featuring jangly guitar, with Aslangul’s vocals in a low register and the song sounding a bit like The Libertines, while the latter comes to life in the second half of the song with its speedy piano ushering a fantastic, cinematic spectacle to light up the imagination.

At the other end of the spectrum, ‘JMCF’s annoying sung refrain is saved by its vivid musical invention. It plays like Circles Around the Sun being coerced into writing a commercial jingle directed by Junior Senior, with the chunky, spacey synths just about averting the end product from being a car crash.

‘Bed Bugs’ is a pop song about the mutual craziness of two people in a relationship which offers a platform for Aslangul’s vocals to flourish, ‘Hello Tomorrow’ invites comparisons with Mika, ‘Eggs on American Bread’ is a tour de force of soulful vocals surfing an urgent rock-laden soundtrack and ‘Now and Then’ could be a musical number, with regrets about a relationship giving way to hope for the future.

When it works, The Eternal Summer is a hugely impressive statement by a young band. Ambitious in scope, its embrace of a variety of instruments and its adherence to positivity, The Eternal Summer isn’t without its flaws and kitschy arrangements, but delivers more smiles than frowns in what is an admirable debut album from Sourface.

Rating: 7.8/10

The Eternal Summer is out on Friday (22 March) via Bossi Corp. Records


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