"Two foot tall, and mad as hell"
Silver Sun were a bit of an oddity during the dying years of Britpop, as they were far more of a straight power-pop act than any of their contemporaries. Specialising in Weezer-esque geek-pop guitar tunes blended with Posies-style harmonies, they were a far fizzier and fuzzier proposition than the bands they inevitably toured with. They were also a little more interesting as well, with them claiming that they preferred The Monkees to The Beatles and lead vocalist James Broad even confessing to owning a Jethro Tull album.
The thing is, while Britpop acts either transcended their limitations, or started to realise that they were wandering down a retro-rock cul-de-sac, Silver Sun had issues of their own to deal with in that they suffered from the same problems that inflict all but the very best power-pop acts. First of all, despite the fact that this self-titled debut clocks in under 45 minutes, it’s still at least two tracks too long. The relentless wall of fuzzy guitars threatens to smother the listener in a wall of relentless fuzz. The harmonies, although well executed, are a little over-egged for seemingly no better reason than to hide the limitations of James Broad’s vocals at the time.
Song wise there are a number of notable tunes, with “Golden Skin” (the best song on the album), “Dumb” and “Julia” providing a sturdy trilogy of opening tunes. After this though it goes a bit scatter-shot, with the fuzztone guitar effect slowly starting to get tiresome and the songs becoming less assured. Although it boasts occasional flashes of strong songwriting, this album doesn’t quite hang together right, some songs seem to trip over each other and suffers from the classic debut thing of too many ideas and not enough self control. The last track though is a belter though, with the fuzzy guitars stuck to the back-wall and some very Beach Boys harmonies take centre stage alongside a rather gentle / sinister piano-led tune
If this album has a strength, then it is in the fact that it has an odd timelessness. Or to put it another way, it sounds as if it could have been recorded at any point during the last twenty years. There are bands still out there making a healthy living out of the exact same template that Broad and his cohorts used here, which is probably why Silver Sun have been hitting the come back trail in recent years – in the strangest way they’re still relevant. Another reason for contemporary indie-fans to check out this album is the fact that it includes the first production credit, for Nigel Godrich, which is reason enough for the Radiohead fan-boys to get into a bit of a lather about it.