Say Psych: Album Review: The Third Sound – Most Perfect Solitude

Berlin psych/post-punk band The Third Sound have recently released their sixth studio album Most Perfect Solitude. It is the follow up to 2022’s First Light and has been eagerly anticipated for some time.

The LP marks a new chapter, not just in sound but personnel, for the band led by Icelandic musician and author Hakon Adalsteinsson – who, outside of The Third Sound, has played in the likes of The Brian Jonestown Massacre, Singapore Sling, the Anton Newcombe & Tess Parks band and, most recently, Golden Hours. Introducing a new Third Sound line up, the new record finds Adalsteinsson (Guitar/Vocals) and long-time member and collaborator Robin Hughes (Organ/Guitar) joined by fresh recruits Frankie Broek (drums) and Golden Hours band-mate Wim Janssens (bass).

With the new group pieced together, Hakon’s early demos of the track were fleshed out over a week of intense rehearsals during a rare gap in his hectic touring schedule with both BJM and Golden Hours at that time. Wasting no time, the band jumped into the studio with Torben Utecht as soon as the songs were ready and laid down the recordings in four days, before being mastered by Ryan Van Kriedt: “We made this album relatively quickly as we only had a tight time frame to make it in. The odds were against us but just like gambling big and ending with a winning hand, it felt incredible, as well as a huge relief to realise when we pulled it off. It’s an album that we are extremely proud of, moving the band forward artistically.”

If Hakon’s non-stop time and mileage on the road influenced the making of the record, it is also equally as integral thematically. The album’s title is a phrase lifted from Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein but found by way of Werner Herzog’s journal writings in ‘Of Walking In Ice’, documenting his walk from Munich to Paris, which Hakon was reading whilst out on tour: “I noticed after the album was finished that many of the songs touched on the theme of trips or some sort of travel, so I knew immediately that it was going to be the title, especially because of the context I found it in. When you are travelling or touring you can find yourself in a weird sort of isolation, whilst also often looking for solitude to get away from everything. And, sometimes, it is best to listen to music in that most perfect solitude.”

Opening with ‘See You on the Other Side’, the listener is instantly transposed into another world, one of wonder and unveiled intensity. Its the perfect opener to set the pace of what is to come, and marks this album apart from their other offerings. ‘On Returning’ and ‘Don’t Look Back’ make for a heady psychedelic cocktail, taking all the very best bits of the genre, while adding a dose of melancholy which makes their sound so unique and captivating. ‘Catch Fire’ is an altogether calmer entity, evoking dreamy soundscapes of lazy summer days whereas ‘Veiled’ could come straight out of the 60s, for all the best reasons.

‘Another Time, Another Place’ has a forlorn longing permeating the track lyrically, and is perhaps The Third Sound at their most radiant – with shimmering jangle-pop guitars and breezy melody. Describing the single, Hakon writes: “Driving 12 string rhythms and guitar melodies lay down a 60’s influenced foundation that is contrasted by a melancholic vocal delivery, creating a bittersweet, nostalgic ride.” ‘Shooting Star’ stands out from the album, with its jovial melodies interwoven around darker vocal harmonies, creating a competition within the song, both vying for attention. ‘Dots’ has a pop edge that’s not their in keeping with their usual countenance, but when its done this well it forces you deep into the music. ‘Wasteland’ and ‘Departure’ form the perfect way to end an album; bits of all that has come before, yet arranged in a way that leaves you wanting more.

The Third Sound are a band brimming with talent, they take tried and tested sounds and arrange them in a way that sounds brand new, even to the most experienced of listener. That is a skill that few have mastered.

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