Suncharms first appeared in the pages of With Just A Hint Of Mayhem three years ago when I reviewed their sublime single “Red Dust”. Now they finally get to release their first album which has kind of been 30 years in the making. Things might have been so very different had social media existed back in the early 90s. In 1993 Slumberland Records expressed a desire to release something by the Suncharms, so the band duly sent a DAT Tape (remember those kids?) to the US record label in a decorated padded envelope. Slumberland never replied so the band assumed that they just weren’t into the charming Suncharms. The band eventually got back together on the back of a retrospective compilation CD on Cloudberry Records in 2016. Amazingly Slumberland picked up on this and contacted the band via FaceBook to explain that they never in fact received the DAT Tape. How might the life of this excellent band turn out had the DAT Tape been received?
Anyway, the past is behind us and we sure as hell can’t change it and we should celebrate the release of the first Suncharms album in 2021. It is called ‘Distant Lights’ and it is beautiful, adventurous and is among the best releases of 2021. I know I am a little late in reviewing it, but I didn’t want to miss that opportunity. The album kicks off with the title track and the mood of this one, along with the droney sound effects made me think of a 21st Century Joe Meek. After a few listens I think “Dream Of A Time Machine” is perhaps my favourite song, at least for now. It has a keen, cheerful feel and the vocal effects have a dub quality to them. I felt the presence of Noel Gallagher strongly on “Three Billion Heartbeats”, particularly with the guitar motifs, although to be fair this tune knocks spots off anything Oasis recorded after their first two albums. If the Velvet Underground were British and hit the scene during the Britpop years then I reckon they would have recorded something akin to “Liquid Through My Hands” and maybe “Cast A Spell”, two beautiful and delightfully eloquent numbers that is a perfect chill out sound.
I sense the spirit of Lee Mavers at his early 90s peak with the La’s on “Precious Hour”. If the charts reflected truly great music and really meant something these days then “Seas Of Titan” would be a shoe in for the top 5, gorgeous hooks aplenty and a stand out vocal performance from Marcus Palmer on vocals. The jangly, Byrdsian guitars on “Jewels” give the song a happy shoegaze vibe which you wouldn’t expect to work on paper, but on record it is immaculate. Sometimes I hear a tune and think, even if I was told I had to dislike it I couldn’t, “Casting Shadows” is such a tune and it leaves me happy after every listen. Cliff Richard, among others, once asked “Why should the Devil have all the good music?” well I would say largely perhaps the acoustics are good downstairs, but album closer “Lucifer” would even make Satan dance, laugh, smile and singalong. This is a marvellous, magnificent, majestic, mighty tour de force of a debut album that is well worth spinning, I love it! You can find it in all the usual places, click here to check it out on Spotify and click here to order your vinyl copy.
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