Sunstack Jones unleash the album of the year in Golden Repair and Sun 13’s Banjo is blown away.
I’ve been looking forward to this. Ever since I heard Sunstack Jones‘ single How It All Went Down, I was convinced that this was a band who were best suited to an album ,somewhere their ideas could be given free rein and their songs could coalesce into a greater whole.
The new album Golden Repair does all this and more and is, in my own opinion, the best album we are likely to hear this year. But don’t just take my word for it, do your ears a favour and have a listen yourself.
Where You Gonna Go starts things off nicely and lays out the wares on Sunstack Jones stall nicely. Perfect laid back West Coast harmonies mix with Byrdsian guitars and all seems well with the world. Where You Gonna Go has a chilled out vibe that makes us feel calm, focused and perhaps a little bit stoned.
And then, a little over the halfway mark, the guitars kick in and the song becomes something more, something other. This is what Sunstack Jones do, they lull you with a false sense of calm and then their songs take off to another dimension and take you with them.
This is like listening to a jam between The Verve and Jimi Hendrix, the music now completely carried by the guitars’ flights of fancy. You get the feeling you could end up anywhere a million miles away from where you stared. The start of the song now feels like a lifetime ago, we have travelled so far, but the rhythm section continue to keep a solid foundation for the song to stand on, to anchor it to something solid and stop it floating away completely.
Sunstack Jones have a knack for writing songs that burrow into your subconscious so that you find yourself humming them long after the song has stopped playing. Next song, the single How It All Went Down demonstrates this perfectly, repeating the formula with an added dash of commercialism. Its loose groove and perfect harmonies give the song an almost universal appeal and it is easy to imagine many generations of listeners falling for its charms.
Shouldabin slows things down a little and has a loose feel that gives it an almost improvised quality, until the two part harmonies kick in again. Hints of Stone Roses, Ride and 60s rock float by, adding more colour to the already rich aural palette. Nowhere Near An Ocean is perhaps the most Verve-like song on the album but unlike them, Sunstack Jones do not rely on a frontman to lead the charge. This is a group effort and everyone here has an essential part to play.
Glass Boat starts with beautiful picked guitar and another solid groove. This love of groove is the secret to Sunstack Jones’ success, it is this that moves the feet and allows the guitars to take off as they do, knowing they have something firm to land on. While it is the guitar work that amazes, it is the groove of the rhythm section that moves us.
Wintersong is another slow song and gives the harmonies another chance to shine while Golden Repair’s looping bassline gives the song a chance to grow and soar. Visions of 60s psychedelia are conjured up, oil wheel lights and joss sticks fill our minds. The song dips towards the end, almost coming to an end before the guitars kick in and lift the whole thing to glorious heights.
Distill is almost beat free for the first half before again locating its rhythmical flow and locating another blissful rock vibe.
Seams again takes a 60’s feel and brings it into the modern age before Almost Hear The City brings the album to a close in epic style. An album like this needs a grand and ambitious finale, and this is it. Everything we have heard in the preceding 9 tracks is neatly summarized in Almost Hear The City, but with the intensity turned up to 11.
Sunstack Jones sound like heroes who have already conquered the known world and are unleashing what will be the most legendary album. The fact that they are yet to achieve the levels of success that are rightfully theirs is something that Golden Repair will hopefully put right.
This is an album that deserves your love and needs to be added to your record collection as soon as possible. If this isn’t 2020’s best album I will eat my headphones.
Falling in love with Sunstack Jones may be the most worthwhile thing you will do this year.