Friday 2 August 2019

Children of the Sün - Flowers (2019)

Country: Sweden
Style: Psychedelic Rock
Rating: 9/10
Release Date: 26 Jul 2019
Sites: Bandcamp | Facebook

Here's a real gem that came out of nowhere and I still know almost nothing about Children of the Sün, who clearly have one foot firmly planted in the Summer of Love and the other striding into the early seventies. I know that they come from Arvika, Sweden and there are apparently eight members of the band, only two of them male, but I don't know what each of them do.

They talk up the sixties connection everywhere, it seems, raising Woodstock and adding, very confidently, that "No one since has managed to reincarnate the feeling of nature, soul and rock music, that was on that magical field north of New York, since. Until now." The thing is that they have something of a point and what's truly impressive is that they replicate the feel, not any particular artist's style.

While there's definitely a lot of late sixties here, most obviously in the brief intro and the title track, I'd suggest that there's more than a bit of seventies in their sound too though. Quite a few tracks are built like John Kongos did so memorably back in 1972, not least Her Game and Sunchild. While there's almost nothing modern at all, the production is definitely very 21st century so we wouldn't mistake this for a disc that someone found on a shelf after half a century and brought to the world's attention. There are effects here that would have blown people's minds back in 1968 too.

I try not to always talk through every track like I'm some match commentator but this album does invite it because each of them adds something different to the sound.

Her Game starts out like San Fran pop rock, the vocals initially reminding of Grace Slick until the whole thing evolves into a John Kongos song, right down to the looping chorus and the wailing backing vocals. Emmy is more of a vocal workout laid over a laid back Hammond organ. The Swedish accent isn't Janis Joplin's and the tone is much sweeter but some of the approach is very reminiscent. There are great transitions here too, where a voice or voices give way to or merge with guitars in a glorious harmony.

Hard Workin' Man is completely different and very interesting. It starts out with some funky beats and a vicious slide guitar, clearly a rock version of some old blues song we've never heard before, but flows completely naturally into a sort of psychedelic Beatles tune instead, eventually returning again. Sunchild has some world music in the vocal approach, overt in the a capella opening, along with some Abba and some Sandy Denny, a heady mix indeed, all again in the phrasing rather than the tone.

The title track is the most hippified song on offer, not only because it's named Flowers but because of its handheld percussion and that guitar line. The voice that comes to mind here is Dolores O'Riordan's, that recognisable Irish lilt working well on a Swedish voice. Like a Sound is odd as a follow-up because it's like a hard rock song that isn't sure how hard it wants to be. Every time it thinks about really rocking it up, it calms down again and stays pop. It's an interesting piece and a successful one but it oddly makes us think about what it could have been rather than what it is.

That leaves Beyond the Sun, complete with a plaintive harmonica somewhere in the distance. It's a singer/songwriter piece of the sort I'd expect to find on a Kate & Anna McGarrigle album. Well, until it really escalates into the hippie campfire singalong song that it felt like being all along.

I wish I knew who was doing what here, so I could praise everyone, but I can do that by just praising everyone anyway. This is a real throwback album but it's done incredibly well and without ever seeming to try too hard. It feels like the band just recorded this for themselves rather than some demographic or other. And it all works, really well. I've been playing it over and over all day and I can see myself coming back to it again and again, which is why I'm going to edge this up from the 8/10 I was expecting to my first 9/10 of August. Let's see if anything can top it!

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