Friday, January 6, 2012

The Sound - Shock of Daylight

Shock of Daylight (1984) ****

Now why did Borland & the boys wait until they were kicked off the majors & back on an indie label to start releasing the most commercial music of their career?!  The music is somewhat glossier & slightly poppier than their previous releases (certainly moreso than commercially disastrous goth-bomb All Fall Down, which earned them the music biz pariah status in the first place).  After three critically well-received but commercially dubious albums (I just realized I've used the word 'commercial' three times in the first three sentences - oops, now that's four) in 1984 nobody cared about the Sound.  They'd had their chance at the brass ring and blown it.  More's the pity for the public, as this six-song EP brings back the brite hooks missing from their murky third LP for a bracing blast of solid melodycraft that stands up to the best of their classic first two LPs.  Actually, if not for the one-chord wonder ballad, "Winter," which frankly is way too musically rudimentary and lacking in hooks & dynamics to not painfully drag, this is their most consistent release - all of the songs are not merely excellent, but the Sound at the top of their game.  The other quibbling flaw on this essentially flawless dish is that the Sound aren't making any major advances - any of these songs could have fit seamlessly on From the Lion's Mouth.  Taken as a whole, however, the mood conveyed is considerably brighter and upbeat, dare I say it happier.  "Golden Soldiers," rampages out of the gate as their most directly forceful anthem ever - it's, it's, it's so anthemic.  A bit disarming (no pun intended) in its direct simplicity as a raging anthem-rocker, but none the worse for it - one of their finest singles, in fact, and in a just world would be sitting pretty next to "Pride (In the Name of Love)" on '80s AOR.  "Counting the Days," likewise is unusually pretty and happy by their standards, a straightforward, sincere, mid-tempo chimer of a love ballad.  "Longest Days," "A New Way of Life," and "Dreams Then Plans," all sit comfortably in the mid-section between ballad and rocker, hard and dreamy, anthemic and subtle, moodily post-punk and commercially Big '80s.  (There I go again for a fifth time!)  All three sound kind of similar in style but are individually different enough to register as unique song-entities.  In fact, "Longest Days," may be my favorite track.  Let's listen! Dig that ascending guitar hook!

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