ALBUM REVIEW: SULK – Graceless
How often do you go to a gig early to catch the support act? Do you ever expect to come away loving them? I often approach support acts with a cautious optimism. I never expect to particularly take to them. That changed when I saw Sulk, a London-based five piece band, supporting the Dandy Warhols. They made me stand up and take note and since that moment I’ve followed their progress, eagerly awaiting their debut album. That debut has now arrived in the shape of 10-track long ‘Graceless’.
Sulk are a band unafraid to wear their influences on their sleeves. It would be impossible to walk away from listening to this album and not think of The Stone Roses, Oasis and Suede. It’s not at all surprising to learn the album is produced by Ed Buller, who has previously worked with Suede, Blur and White Lies. From the hopeful psychedelic-indie guitar pop riffs to lead singer Jon Sutcliffe’s whimsical voice, Sulk sound like they could have been formed in the early nineties. They take their lead from all the best material of those bands, which is no bad thing and brings exciting results.
Listeners are spoilt for choice of standout tracks here. ‘Wishes’, ‘Sleeping Beauty’, ‘Flowers’, ‘Diamond in Ashes’ and ‘Marian Shine’ all sound good enough to have appeared on any Stone Roses or Suede album. Early single ‘Wishes’ is easily the best track here. Its euphoric tones are reminiscent of Suede’s ‘Animal Nitrate’ and with its catchy chorus it is destined to play over and over in your head for just as long.
As a collection, ‘Graceless’ does have its slower moments but it is at its best during the uplifting, upbeat tracks. That first time I saw Sulk live I said they had ‘ready-for-festival’ tunes, this album does little to disprove that theory. This kind of music is meant to be listened to late afternoon at a summer festival while enjoying an ice cold beer and swaying along with your mates. The ONLY way to listen to ‘Graceless’ is very loudly while the sun is shining, any other environment wouldn’t do it justice.
What works about Sulk is that they manage to tie-in blasts from the past and add a current edge. They manage to make the old sound fresh again and that is no easy task. Debut album ‘Graceless’ may not be uniquely groundbreaking but it marks a solid arrival onto the indie-pop scene. Undoubtedly this is one that will appeal to Britpop fans, especially with the current trend for those old bands reuniting, but there are enough catchy and fun moments to provide a few opportunities for crossover appeal to a mainstream audience. Give it a try, this may well be your album for the summer of 2013 (if that summer ever arrives).
‘Graceless’ is released on 15th April 2013 through Perfect Sound Forever.