Sun Arcana may have delivered one of the most electric EP’s of 2018.
At this point, I should have learnt my lesson. Every time I question the state of British music, bands such as Sun Arcana remind me that, in fact, it may be in the best place it has ever been before. The title of their EP, As I Take A Breath…, left me immediately curious. The ellipsis at the end of the title left me with questions, I was very inquisitive about where the band were going to take me with those suspect three dots. With all the hype built from the release of the singles, Sun Arcana finally have the main gift for us.
The first track is Fracture and to say its opening is bone-shaking is an understatement. This song announces itself at an electrifying pace. When I first heard the vocal quality of Tom Harper-Ward, I knew immediately that this EP would be an enjoyable listen – his involvement on the tracks throughout was made evident from the outset. Once Harper-Ward has finished flirting his way through the first verse, the chorus reignites the pace of the opening and slams it through your headphones. The post-chorus boasts a riff that only further excited me about the band. The chorus has a cyclical sound and is catchy in nature, it does everything you would want it to. From here, a chugging breakdown is threatened for a few moments, it loses it patience and punches its way to the foreground, shifting the vocals aside. The song is felled like a tree and we are left with a tip-toeing riff which, once again, entirely changes the dynamic of the song. The outro is exactly what I wanted. The riff re-emerges and it stamps home emphatically. I can see why this was released as a single on February 16th. It does everything.
Oxygen is atmospheric in its opening, the powerful vocals that are laid over the top cut through it emphatically. I knew almost immediately that it was to be my favourite on the EP. I fell in love with the vocals. The track is driven by hi-hat tinkering, a slamming beat, and is perfectly coupled with a faint keyboard. “You need it, you are on your own” exhales throughout the track, bringing the message of the song to life. The breakdown changes the tone of the piece and once again we are given the chug we crave. The drums take centre stage to clear their throat after the flurry that passed and we are taken back into the chorus one last time. CHECK THIS SONG OUT.
The next track is a ditty that is nothing short of beautiful. Everybody opens with delicate vocals that are laid over an acoustic guitar. The guitar drops away and lets the vocals, rightly so, have their moment in the sun. A springtime anthem. Daffodils and drawn out daylight. The band come in and is met with even more strings. It builds and builds. The track continues to progress in a way that feels as though you are moving higher and higher with it. The song builds once more and then steps aside for more vocal experiments. This song gripped me. It is gorgeous. Lyrics such as “everybody says you’re good enough, but this wasn’t the case at all” play a huge part in this one.
Vocals welcome us once more to When I Turn Cold. However, there is also a funky riff which acts as a pallet cleanser after the moment of reflection seen on the track before. Once more, the lyrics of this one impressed me, introspective elements such as “tangle me into your mould”, leave the listener with questions which I feel are the purpose of their curation. There is an aura to this track, the whole piece feels to be at the whim of its atmospheric vibe, it flirts in and out of it at every moment. My only critique would be the desire for a different direction in this song. The band continually changes and shifts its sound to show flashes of its potential, however, with this one it feels as though it is a little safe.
Where When I Turn Cold may lack in experimentalism, Wonderful makes up for it. A mind shattering riff punches alongside the drums, which feel as though they had eaten too many blue smarties. The vocals only intensify this through the opening verse. A scream is new and takes us into the chorus impeccably. A monumental note is held by Harper-Ward and we are gifted with a riff once more. By the time the breakdown comes, we want more and boy, do we get it. A low bassline thuds through the headphones, a math-rock feel builds up and flexes. It pops off. This track is one to check out and is the most appropriately titled one on the EP.
Oblique is a great way to end it, leaving a mark on the listener. Opening in a funky manner, the vocals flex throughout. As seen in Oxygen, the hi-hat is wonderfully employed throughout the verses and the chorus. I feel it gives the song life. The lyric “I can’t take this silence”, ironically, takes us into the breakdown which feels like the band is throwing everything (including the kitchen sink) at it. We get one more high-calibre riff and the EP is over and out.
I don’t struggle to see where this record will fit into the music scene, it is both radio-friendly but also boasts moments that send electricity down your spine. I have to commend the vocals of Tom Harper-Ward one last time, something about his voice is incredibly addictive. I am sure that the byte-age will increase in the upcoming months, as I spin it more and more. Do not sleep on Sun Arcana.