On paper, The Sunday Sadness look to be drawing out their path forward by capitalising on pop and alternative music’s most fruitful musical wells. A list of influences containing The 1975, Chase Atlantic and BTS are perhaps most obvious, but throwing My Chemical Romance into the equation feels like the canniest move imaginable to cover all bases of a young, omni-directional listener base. And that in itself isn’t a bad move to take, especially on a debut EP that’s looking to cultivate as strong a foundation as possible, but the issue is actually pulling it off, and it’s hard to see how The Sunday Sadness could really do that. The number of bands in the past who’ve also rattled off diverse lists of influences in order to artificially widen their catchment area has been vast, and given how a lot of their music up to now hasn’t really impressed, it’s hard to see what The Sunday Sadness can really do to avoid being bundled in with the same crowd.
But even beyond that, there’s a bigger issue in how to make this good, and that’s where The Sunday Sadness really start to disappoint. To their utmost credit, they’ve found a way to take the core elements of their aforementioned influences – the overriding internal emotionality of My Chemical Romance and The 1975; the washed-out synthetics of Chase Atlantic; the finger-on-the-pulse zeitgeist-riding of BTS – and meld them smoothly into a single entity, but when it struggles to produce much of any interest whatsoever, it’s like leaping over the initial hurdle only to fall into a bottomless pit. As such, this is the sort of awkward debuts that sees its creators hitting their intended goal, but emerging with a final product that isn’t all that good to begin with.
It’s tough to really know where to go from there as well, as objectively, the necessary points coalesce in a way that The Sunday Sadness undoubtedly wanted. The core of ghostly synthwave stands as the main focus with misty, ‘80s-inspired passages forming the bulk of the execution, bolstered by gentle hints of guitar and Matthieu Kirby’s vocals that flit between mid-2000s emo shirt-tugging and breathy vulnerability. To some, that probably sounds absolutely fantastic and they’ll undoubtedly get more of a kick out of this, but like so many of the acts they draw from (and in a realisation that, in hindsight, couldn’t have been more obvious), The Sunday Sadness are something of an acquired taste. There’s definitely the distinct whiff of a band pivoting to a younger audience, not only sonically but in the sort of emotionally yearning lyrics that are just vague enough to fit with most instances of teen melodrama, and while that can work, the sort of uber-anthemic, uber-cinematic approach The Sunday Sadness adopt doesn’t take long to reveal how threadbare it can be. The lockstep thud of Someone is probably the best example in how it fails to evolve or really move beyond glittery, watery fluttering for five minutes, but the overly-glitzy electro-pop of Lost In The Crowd or the ill-advised foray into crunckcore rapping on The Wrong Way clearly have their gaze directly set on representation of everything under the ever-widening ‘alternative’ umbrella, to the point where it really has an effect on the music at hand.
At least Damn I Hate It’s thick new wave groove and The Hunger’s welcome guitar solo bring some more colour to proceedings, but on the whole, the approach has a lot of clunk and overweight awkwardness that never really brings any sufficient motion. Again, it’s arguably what The Sunday Sadness were aiming for, but for a band that want to be as cutting-edge as they do (not to mention the magnitude of how such a potentially huge ‘80s homage is squandered), they struggle to do anything with it almost consistently. It’s a slow, frequently uninspiring listen that rarely even goes for broke or emphasises its anthemic qualities in any meaningful way.
That all makes for an EP that doesn’t have a lot to say and even fewer ways to say it. It’s good that The Sunday Sadness have already reached their own self-imposed goals in terms of sonics, but the evidence on show would suggest that even those need a healthy bit of work, especially when they can really struggle to muster anything decently interesting from them. And that’s a problem with essentially the whole EP; there’s no sense of forward movement or tangible inspiration that provides any benefit, and thus the final product is a one-note, forgettable slog that’s pretty much destined to be forgotten as soon as it’s over. If The Sunday Sadness can overhaul their overall game plan, maybe something can still be salvaged from this, but it’s going to take a lot of work to turn the fortunes around of something this lacklustre.
For fans of: Chase Atlantic, The Neighbourhood, The 1975
Words by Luke Nuttall
‘The Sunday Sadness’ by The Sunday Sadness is released on 15th February.