When SULK released their debut LP Graceless three years ago, the core elements of their sound were already in place. The glistening Brit-rock guitars, the star-gazing Stones Roses-esque vocal melodies, the daydream logic of their songwriting: they had a knack for all this stuff, and if you’re a listener susceptible to any of it then it was an easy album to like.
Back in September, we premiered the first song from their new album No Illusions, “Black Infinity (Upside Down),” and it was clear the band had something else on their hands this time. Those core elements and reference points haven’t shifted too much, but the songs that make up No Illusions are altogether more muscular, confident, and unshakeable than much of what we had heard from the band before. The first four songs — “Black Infinity (Upside Down),” “The Only Faith Is Love,” “No Illusions,” and “Drifting” — all fall in that category of cascading British guitar music that has you waking up with the riffs stuck in your head, maybe even more so than the vocal hooks (of which there are a ton here, as well).
It’s all infused with this massive psychedelic swagger, though, too. Where SULK’s earlier material bled by in pretty watercolor blur, now they ignite and/or lift off according to the mood of the song. From the aforementioned tracks to “Love Can’t Save You Now” or spaced-out closer “Another Man Fades Dawn,” No Illusions sounds like SULK controlling different moments of a storm on the shore, songs crashing and twisting like waves driven by a Technicolor hurricane. It’s an often gorgeous album, offering the kind of music well-suited for wandering aimlessly through the afternoon, whether down the street or down convoluted and lesser-visited pathways in your head. Stream the whole LP below.
No Illusions is out this Friday, 4/15 via Echo Drug Recordings. Pre-order it here.