"A smattering of vocal layering for effect here and there is used for underlining the depth being heard, rather than cause roars of audience approval, as essentially one voice expresses the heart-felt emotions the music effortlessly evokes."
Written and arranged over the span of two years, it’s almost concept-album feel as we follow and hear the indiscretions and emotions of a single entity throughout builds together to form a release that feels so markedly different from anything else currently available.
"Lonely" opens the album to a growing swell of pent-up intent; it loods in a melancholic but somewhat veiled manner, as if only just holding back the fragility of the emotions that lay behind their composition. Vocally and we are treated to a voice that is stripped back, unpretentious, no hint of the fake ‘frontman voice’ so many feel necessary to justify their position behind the mic. A smattering of vocal layering for effect here and there is used for underlining the depth being heard, rather than cause roars of audience approval, as essentially one voice expresses the heart-felt emotions the music effortlessly evokes.
An introduction in reverse for the second track on the album puts me in mind of a Eurhythmics feel; that daring to defy convention and bring a new take to the old ideal of how things ‘should’ be…which is somewhat apposite when one reads the title as sees it is called "Changing". More bombastic than the opening track it continues the albums promise of a dignified explosion of sound with a chorus that I am going to go out on a limb right now and declare as being the ‘lighter in the air’ moment of Sullivan and Gold’s live set. There’s more than just music at work here; there’s also an understanding of how music and melody are more than just the things you put in behind the singer to fill up the empty bits.
As "Run Faster" is quick to acquiesce of; falsetto vocals accentuate and punctuate throughout, bringing a Brian Moloko/Placebo sound to things. You can hear the movement of the fingers on the strings of the acoustic guitar leading the flow through this aural indulgence, adding a much more personal, right there-ness to it. Ending with what reminds me of one too many nights spent attending festivals under canvas during the swinging nineties ‘glow-stick ‘n’ whistle’ get-togethers of music partiers makes me want to hear more of this groups techno leanings, the tight rhythm and precisely measured electronics making me yearn for strobe lighting and UV make-up.
"People Talk" takes things back to the basics of guitar-and-voice that leaves a powerful impression on the ear; there doesn’t need to be anything more than these two elements on this track, and its to the their duo’s great credit they too understood this and left it ‘bare bones’. Possibly my favourite track off the album, and definitely the one that made it click for me.
"Jigsaws" offers a more dance-hall club feel with a strong piano lead and broad choruses that don’t demand a wood-walled room with tuned acoustics to appreciate the brevity the vocals convey, but damn would the walls shake with the personal introspection of the entire audience if Sullivan and Gold ever play a Church hall.
"Don't Stand In Line" takes us back to the spotlight of guitar and vocals, building with subtle nuance as the chorus approaches to affect a choral accompaniment in place of a more traditional instrumental confection. Powerful, certainly, and truly delicious on the ears.
"Forget Myself" has a pleasant hook entwined through the vocal melody that is a little too sugary-pop to my ears, and makes the track feel a little too ‘made for the singles chart’, conventional, when compared against the rest of the album.
Quite unlike following song "Please Repeat", a rather short yet none the less demanding your attention track of nothing but vocals, almost too long a pause between each line that teases your attention, pushes you to the edge of frustration at being made to wait in a Professor-like touch of exemplary composing. Philistines might struggle with the song but for those who can appreciate greatness when they hear it, it’s a much needed track to listen to.
"All Of My Brothers" picks things up with a warming beat, head swaying rhythm, and a feel-good factor of ten on the playlist; take a reflective evening of warm sun and cool breezes, turn up the iPod and wind down the windows, and bask in the summer air as you take a trip down to the coast with its lyrics of personal acceptance helping settle your inner self to a calming centre.
And with "Glory" taking us out in tremendous fashion, incorporating all the previous tracks traits and touches of building subtle melodies and rhythm, flourishes and falsetto, before culminating in an operatic curtain closing round of thunderous audience appreciation, it’s with no small recommendation on my behalf that I say; until you have heard Sullivan & Gold’s For Foes album you have yet to fully appreciate why musicians are also called artists.
Sullivan & Gold release their debut album 'For Foes' on November 25th, 2013.
23rd November - The Thatched Cottage, Craft Village, Derry*
7th December - Sheelagh Na Gig Bookshop, Tipperary
20th December - 101 Central, Belfast
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