By: Gilbert Potts
Solkyri | website | facebook | twitter | bandcamp |
Released on April 10, 2015 via Bird's Robe Records
Often when an album has a clear mood change around the halfway mark it can lose its identity and feel less than whole. We’ve also all listened to albums and thought the first half was much better because at some stage it started to lose its freshness, became too repetitive or whatever.
Less often does an album find the right interplay between the individual songs and the album as a whole, or between tracks that are not adjacent. Enough change to keep it interesting and tell a bigger story, but with enough to connect the chapters. This is how I feel listening to Sad Boys Club, the new album from Solkyri. The songs are stories within themselves and don’t rely on each other for their own strength, but together they are part of a more detailed narrative.
Now this is largely moot in an environment where listeners move increasingly toward streaming/purchasing/stealing individual songs or using shuffle rather than listening to whole albums, and some will find a couple of tracks feeling like fillers. But plenty of bands and individuals still want to create something that works as a whole and there are still those of us who want to listen to something that does, and that’s now easier to find. While the digital age takes with one hand it gives back with another.
Although it runs at an average to shortish (by post-rock standards) 45-odd minutes, Sad Boys Club feels as though it accomplishes more than time allows, and I think it’s this aspect of composition that is helping bands like Solkyri avoid the “nice to put on in the background” basket that swallows the more ambient instrumental acts.
The powerful, emotional and dynamic live show that the band presents has always needed adjustment because of the depth and level of instrumentation in the recorded versions. This has meant a level of sacrifice in song selection and how the songs are performed because Solkyri has chosen to limit what they bring along on a laptop. Instead they have played to their strengths and made those live arrangements work.
What’s pleasing with Sad Boys Club is that Solkyri haven’t given up on depth and instead increased their firepower with the addition of a second guitar – a proper lead. And as we all know, there’s no such thing as too many guitars, especially when it brings a lift in riffing and melodic strength. The result is an album that has enough tunes to bring to the stage at full strength, but retains a few that exploit the possibilities available only in the studio. Whether they bring more of the latter to the stage, play different versions, or simply leave tracks like ‘Farewell Bluebird’ and ‘Rosalia’ off the setlist, we will have to wait and see.
Let’s get back to the songs themselves, and if you are at all familiar with their previous releases you’ll find the same DNA – extensive exploration of dynamics, emotion, structure and sound. The opening tracks remind you of the explosive power and elation of sleepmakeswaves, but this is contrasted with the slower, more thoughtful tracks and classical instrumentation found in the likes of 3epkano and Rumour Cubes. Then sprinkled through both of these styles is such magnificent intense and loud darkness that is usually the stock in trade of post-metal and doom, but presented so differently here.
Yes, Sad Boys Club is sad at times. Very sad. The title and cover art are perfect because they dispense with hyperbole, engage you on a clear concise level, and invite you into this world of emotional exploration. Similarly, despite being deep and layered and at times highly charged these songs fall naturally to a state of minimalism and elegant simplicity. Take away the screaming, the anger, the despair, the crying, and it’s a beautiful and reflective look at loneliness, told no more perfectly than when piano and cello swap their stories in ‘Be Good, I Love You’.
It’s just really fucking beautiful.