More about: Night Shop
Forever Night, the second album by Justin Sullivan’s songwriting project, Night Shop, is a dichotomous effort. Lyrically, six of these ten tracks see Sullivan eagerly looking ahead to the future, whilst the other four convey wistful reminiscences, often teetering into melancholy. Musically, the five slow, gentle tracks in the middle are bookended by five up-tempo rock songs. On the music side, these two versions of Night Shop don’t cross over easily and may have you longing for more of one over the other (or at the very least, more mixing up of the different styles).
The title track is a great statement of intent with Sullivan sharing life-affirming sentiments, chief among which being "I want to destroy the cynical" and conveying the life of a music lover with "I want to go where the music is loud/That’s where I belong/I want to lose myself in a crowd/And inside a song". Delivered over the top of scuzzy guitar and crashing drums, who could disagree with that?
'Slow Dancing at the Wax Museum' sees Sullivan lament the breakdown of a relationship over a garage rock soundtrack with the high energy continuing with album highlight 'Let Me Let It Go' seeing Meg Duffy’s bass – reminiscent of 'Spread Your Love' by Black Rebel Motorcycle Club – driving the song forward into a big band effort, replete with some great trumpet-playing, and the frontman conveying his restlessness in wanting to move forward with his life.
Having established a distinct indie rock sound in these opening three songs (Sullivan’s voice meeting somewhere in the middle of The Vaccines’ Justin Hayward-Young and Bob Dylan), things become mellower over the next five tracks and sees Forever Night lose its way somewhat. The pick of this quintet being the life-affirming 'Midnight' which apes The Shins in their earlier, quieter moments and 'For a While', which showcases Jarvis Taveniere’s mastery of the piano and Jess Williamson’s backing vocals. The rest of the album’s belly isn’t bad but fails to stir the senses.
'The End of Time' returns the album to where things left off after the first three tracks: with Sullivan rejoicing in the wondrous moments which make life worth living over catchy organ and piano from Spoon’s Alex Fischel. Sullivan’s guitar then takes centre stage for closing track, 'At the Opera', which offers a hopeful look into the future and a sense of renewal.
Ultimately, Forever Night is a mixed bag — Sullivan’s quicker, heavier songs offering a glimpse of what could have been had these outweighed the quieter, inward-looking, and slightly forgettable, ballads.
Forever Night arrives 11 February via Dangerbird Records.
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More about: Night Shop