REVIEW ROUND-UP: Dayseeker, BRKN LOVE, Sunliner

A black sun radiating waves of coloured light


Dark Sun

Following the acclaimed 2019 full-length, Sleeptalk, Dayseeker’s new offering Dark Sun shows the band’s continued growth. Leading their songwriting into the realms of genre fusion, the post-hardcore outfit are being picked up on more and more radars, and listening to the new album Dark Sun it’s not surprising why.

Atmospheric electronics, soaring leads and energetic rhythms introduce the opener Dreamstate. The dynamics of the tracks rise and fall between the verses and choruses, enhancing the emotional feel of the song. The vocal performance gives an intimate quality while the harsh intensity adding a contrast to match the instrumental mood. Neon Grave ventures into heavier tones and contains within a pretty epic breakdown. Atmospheric electronics continue the lighter side of their sound while heavy distortion and subtle dissonance twists the narrative down a darker path. Homesick has serene, clean and shimmering tones across the piano. Low bass grounds the track and adds dimension without taking away from the pop style. Midnight Eternal follows on in a similar manner seeing trap cymbals and synths take a greater prominence along with the vocal delivery.

The title track brings driving rhythms which build momentum ahead of the calm pre-chorus before the full energy explosion hits. Intricate guitar melodies weave among the percussion and contrasting synth textures. It’s an intriguing balance of heavy and airy parts that manifest intense emotion in a track in which the vocal performance remains around the same level throughout. The surrounding instrument arrangement is the dominant source of power. Catchy hooks continue across Dark Sun with Quicksand’s chorus being one example. There’s a gentle air to the song despite the melancholy character portrayed through the lyrics. Paperheart, the record’s ballad, is a hauntingly tranquil composition of minimal instruments parts and delicate melodies before ultimately rising into full sound. Drawing to a close with Afterglow (Hazel’s Song), a deeply feeling delivery accompanies music that ebbs and flows below. Guitars enhance the impact of the uplifting chord progressions, while drums emphasise the energy. Progressive aspects in the breakdown lead to an unexpected musical development before falling back into a stripped-down chorus.

The new full-length is a dynamic genre fusion as seen through the odd hardstyle synth and trap cymbal thrown into the mix. Dark Sun carries a heavenly ambience that metamorphoses across the tracklist, but remains ever present tying all of Dayseeker’s ideas together. Dark Sun is a stunningly-produced, emotional journey. • HR

For fans of: Thornhill, The Devil Wears Prada, We Came As Romans

‘Dark Sun’ by Dayseeker is released on 4th November on Spinefarm Records.

A bird flying out of a black box into a coloured sky


Black Box

Let’s be blunt—this current generation of hard rock isn’t really going anywhere, is it? Or at least, nowhere that matters; radio consolidation is one thing, but if you’re looking for acts making a considerable impact on a wider scale, outside of Badflower, you aren’t finding any here. Even in the case of BRKN LOVE, whose self-titled album was a better example of the sound, they’ve simply taken the hint to slide into formula and overall homogeneity on the follow-up.

Okay, it’s not that much of a stretch to presume that would happen, not when BRKN LOVE were only about a half-step from it anyway. It’s still noticeable though, as the guitars and especially the bass have been fuzzed up, and the pacing on songs like Like A Drug and Rubber Room is considerably more lumbering. It’s a product of sanding away some of the sheen that spruced up their debut a bit more, leaving a couple of layers there as far as a punchy hook goes, but also leaving the overall product feeling diminished. Even in terms of raw ideas, they feel fewer here, in Black Box’s apparent attempt to close the gap that’s not beneficial to it at all.

In doing so, it’s made BRKN LOVE even more forgettable, an issue they’d sometimes butt heads with in the past but is practically latched onto them now. You’ll get the occasional sticky chorus from Little Black Box or Under The Knife—though that can likely be attributed more to Justin Benlolo’s booming vocal delivery—but otherwise, it’s expected mainstream-rock fare, sucked of most flavour and edge. And you can tell how much was done to put up the front of that not being the case, as Benlolo sings about personal anguish and mental struggles, which is regularly the shorthand for an artist to get ‘real’ and feeling as though that doesn’t require any extra detail or elaboration. Lo and behold, Black Box is exactly that, with all the correct, assigned metaphors and imagery falling into place, and feeling way more pedestrian than the band likely anticipated or wanted. At least for as tryhard as Badflower’s efforts can be, they can force a reaction, if nothing else.

At the end of the day though, it’s just another one of these albums that isn’t worth getting pressed over in the slightest. It’ll probably be monstrous stateside like every one of these gets, but otherwise it’s completely ignorable. At least it’s not a colossal fall from grace for BRKN LOVE, nor is it of the calibre where your eyes will really start glazing over from it, but that’s hardly a fertile sell, is it? It’s probably best to just leave it alone; even if you don’t, you’ll likely never think about it again anyway. • LN

For fans of: Highly Suspect, cleopatrick, The Glorious Sons

‘Black Box’ by BRKN LOVE is released on 4th November on Spinefarm Records.

A collage of pictures cut from ‘50s-style magazines pertaining to everyday life



From their earlier days playing folk-punk under the Jake & The Jellyfish moniker, jumping over to alt-punk akin to The Menzingers or The Gaslight Anthem is a natural move for Sunliner to make. It signifies their rebrand without undergoing too wild a change, which works about as well as you might expect when crossing into an already packed market. Sunliner aren’t exactly leaping off the page on this debut, more blessed with the reliability and flair of a band who’ve already cut their teeth, and can solidify the results quicker.

Thus comes this album, and the way that Sunliner do strive to align themselves with the more British flavours of this style. Instead of burly, varnish anthemia, what’s here is a bit chillier with the splinters left undealt with, though still deeply rooted in working-class ennui that informs so much of the tension in this sound. The vocals are a lot less pronounced in the mix (maybe even a bit too buried at times), but frontman Jake’s performance comes spitting out regardless on Jo, Joni, Mary And Maria and I Call Him Gamblore, and even when a bit more settled into a richer singalong mould on Dialtones.

And to be fair to Sunliner’s efforts, they’re currently inhabiting a far smaller market share than the bands they’ll ultimately be compared to, favourably or otherwise. This is a much more condensed enterprise, evidenced by a punk side that’s slightly scrappier overall. Even past the production, there’s a more anxious pace, not totally immune to the allures of the heartland but not entirely beholden to it either. As such, the hooks are less resonant but still there, not the standout home runs that others would do under the same circumstances, but fitting for what Sunliner are going for.

That’s largely where ‘not leaping off the page’ leaves them, in a space that’s less critical than that sounds through generally solid efforts being pulled off. Outside of the opener Palliative Care—the big hitter that’s placed right in full view—Sunliner, at this stage, are tied more to the album medium rather than individual swings for the fences, and that’s okay. Despite nothing that some time won’t sharpen up, this is a good early impression, an entry within the alt-punk canon that’s not shaking anything up, but is extremely welcome regardless. • LN

For fans of: Cold Years, The Menzingers, Against Me!

‘Sunliner’ by Sunliner is released on 4th November on Lockjaw Records.

Words by Luke Nuttall (LN) and Holly Royle (HR)

Leave a Reply