For those weekend rock stars out there, this will be your warm up album for months to come...
Layla West

16:26 21st August 2006

The Sunshine Underground: named after the Chemical Brothers’ Surrender track? Let’s discuss: Whereas Sunshine Underground is a softly slowly building piece of psychedelic dance subtly infused with pipes and bells, The Sunshine Underground are much harder. But still like to party. With their high powered disco dance, comparisons have already been made to The Rapture, but that doesn’t mean they are their below standard uncool British cousin. Far from it. This Leeds four piece pack one hell of a funk punch, and know how to make sure you get on those dancing shoes, even if you are much more likely to hover by the bar, pint in hand.

Almost from their inception their live acts have truly been something to behold. As opposed to having to wait until you hear the lyrics on a stale studio recording to truly ‘get’ some bands and their ethos, The Sunshine Underground have the trouble so many punk bands had of trying to pack all of the energy, speed and charisma into a stale pressed reconstruction of what they are about. Luckily, with production tag team of Dan Kahuna, Steve Dubb, Segs and Robert Harder at the helm, they have managed a successful transfer that isolates all of the instruments beautifully whilst highlighting their delightful funk leanings with vocalist Craig Wellington’s powerful and aggressive vocals vying for attention over the ruckus going on along side him.

First track ‘Wake Up’ is disarming in its’ aggressiveness and lyrics like "They try to pull the wool over our eyes and tell us everything’s going to be alright". With distortion, feedback and tinny sharp guitars, this is a dance floor ASBO waiting to happen. The stop and start structure is wonderfully chaotic and moreish, ending when you could do with an extra minute of funk. It’s a good job the next track is current single ‘Put You In Your Place’ which happens to be a crowd pleasing riot. This is acid funk with a cowbell in the back and a repetition of ‘I’m on top but you’re trying to stop me now’. It’s the way the band stop and start seemingly oblivious but still in tandem with the vocals like this is some kind of ‘new jazz’ phenomenon.

The lyrics are cynical and vitriolic, from a band of brothers who seem to have grown tired of the fake wannabe poseurs and have transferred all of their frustration into a disco attack with powerful vocals that complement the driving instruments perfectly. Feedback on Dead Scene has never sounded so good, and the interlude is dance inducing even if you’re only on your first pint.

At just under 50 minutes which by today’s post-post-punk standards is almost a double album's worth, the quality never waivers and never grows tired. ‘Commercial Breakdown’ is another catchy as hell number. As dance music embraces indie with Ibiza Rocks at the forefront, and indie embraces dance with Klaxons et al reinventing the glo sticks, Sunshine Underground come from a more traditional side of gang bands in the mould of Oasis / Kasabian / Stone Roses. Their formula will have the beer monsters attending the gigs and shouting along, but at the same time is so energetic the skinny jeaned indie boys and gals will be jostling for position at the front too.
'Somebody’s Always Getting In The Way' – reflects their range of influences and the way they’ve adapted what they like to become their own. Sounding like Ian Brown over a Chemical Brothers’ psychedelic number. They move into Rapture territory with the 'House Of Jealous Lovers' intro mashed with Franz Ferdinand’s 'Michael' on 'Panic Attack'. 'I Ain't Losing Any Sleep’ is an album highlight.  Strumming guitar chords are the main hook in this number, the explosive superfluity of instruments are stripped down so that they wonderfully layer but aren’t as in your face as on previous tracks. At the same time Craig’s vocals are wonderfully melodic, leading the track and its structure. "What’s the worst that can happen if you turn it around?" asks Craig, with a much less confrontational, more positive outlook. 

Here’s the challenge: listen to 'Raise The Alarm' five times and try to hit the shuffle button. For those weekend rock stars out there, this will be your warm up album for months to come.

What’s most promising about this debut album is that everything The Sunshine Underground tries works. They an identity and sound recognisable immediately and have so much soul in their bodies the aim to get people to dance may even be subconscious but works. With a lot of indie pretenders, when a member jumps or is pushed one tends to think it doesn’t matter as long as the charismatic front man is at the helm. With The Sunshine Underground it would be a potential disaster as this is a real band; each member brings with them an extra element and the chemistry jumps off the tracks.

The Sunshine Underground has succeeded in translating their energy and joy de vies from their gigs onto tangible tracks that can be played again and again and still don’t grow tired. Call it acid jazz, indie dance, electro funk, it doesn’t really matter. We defy any listener not to be won over by these skilled and energetic boys and their very own brand of dance.