From the start of the album opener ‘Team Solar’, it’s evident how far Solkyri has come as a band. Humming with purposeful energy, the quiet beginning unfolds to a quickly tapping drumline as the guitars work their way before the bass guitar blasts away the quietness with a melodic run. There are strutting fiery guitar solos, a delicate xylophone-led interlude and a powerful finish. Finally Solkyri have captured the raucous joyful energy of their live performance on a recording and this continues to be demonstrated with the racing start to the following track, ‘Yes I’m Breathing’.
RELEASE DATE: 07 April 2015 LABEL: Bird’s Robe Records
This energy is mixed with careful consideration for emotion. The shorter tracks such as ‘Kidnapped’ and ‘Beyond the Use of Men’ have far bigger impact beyond their track length in creating the sad mood of the album, with the stunning piano and cello duet of ‘Be Good, I Love You’ and its fading piano notes ending heartachingly beautiful.
The band’s experimental roots still show through in the unpredictable song compositions that always surprise with their twists and turns. It’s a natural enough evolution to let listeners become comfortable with the songs but never entirely thanks to previous surprises and use of suspense. There are only some occasions where these song changes might lose listeners, such as the slightly forced and heavy ending of ‘Yes I’m Breathing’. However, other songs such as bonus track ‘Rosalie’ with its mix of orchestral grandness, spacious piano solo and attacking walls of guitar riffs show that the risks more than often pay off. It’s this adventurous exploration of song evolution and emotion that forms the cornerstone of Solkyri’s sound.
With the bass guitar often rising into a commanding melody role, the rhythm responsibilities often falls solely upon the drums to carry the band forward. And carry it they do, with the expansive, rolling style nevertheless leaving enough space for the other two guitars and bass guitar to fill. The prominent introduction of violin and cello into the album adds even more strings to the band’s bow, allowing an even more organic sound that compliments their use of piano tones and the overall wistful sadness of the album. It will be interesting to see if or how these songs translate into a live setting.
The variety in this album is stunning and I recommend listening to it in one sitting to truly get the little nuances and shifts across the album as the mood gradually slides into sadness. The joyful marching chorus of ‘Forrah’ contrasts starkly to the mournful mix of violin and guitar in ‘Farewell Bluebird’. The suspenseful middle piece of ‘I Felt Unsafe, I Felt At Home’ with its uneasiness stands against the more simpler and pure sadness of ‘Be Good, I Love You while the optimism and energy of the opening tracks is different again. This is the happiest sad album ever or maybe the saddest happy album ever. I’m not sure which way round it should be but nevertheless, Solkyri have finally broken into full flight with this wonderfully absorbing, moody and moving album.