I’m going to hold my hands up and say I don’t really listen to the radio much these days. Primarily that’s because my commute is mainly underground; and also that the mainstream radio stations on offer don’t really cater to my musical tastes. With the advocation of Spotify, Apple Music and various other streaming sites, it does make you wonder about the potential life left in music radio.
Despite this, there is very much still relevance in the “radio-friendly” term, especially in our scene. Big bands who deliver a more “commercially viable” record are said to be delivering a radio friendly one; while smooth, well-rounded albums and EPs without extremes of any particular element are said to be the same.
As I Take A Breath… is exactly that. It’s an exceptionally polished, very well produced, and solidly rounded set of tracks from this Essex four-piece. Notably too for the band, they’ve just come off a tour where they filled support slots to the brilliant Xcerts, and are playing Download this year.
The EP kicks off with Fracture: there’s some nicely generic build up at the beginning before the song drops into a pleasingly crashy introduction. There’s no doubting the strength of Tom’s vocals, too: they’ve got a gritty and slightly raw feel which complements the rounded guitars perfectly. Equally, the backing vocal on the catchy-enough chorus further add to the song: they again add a nice smoothness to the overall track, delivering a perhaps unexpected depth.
Oxygen comes next: some isolated vocals and haunted, echoing guitar notes waver through your speakers before the riffs crash through. It’s rock-by-numbers and doesn’t deviate in any way, shape or form from the much-repeated template set by Mallory Knox and countless others; but it’s fine, there’s nothing wrong with it. The chorus is decent: soaring enough and pretty catchy, with again Tom’s excellent vocal coming to the fore.
I’m not sure about Everybody: it’s a slightly quieter, more laid-back effort but strays too far over the line into forgettable for me. The more upbeat and energetic chorus in When I Turn Cold is far more appealing and stands out much more: it’s also a quieter and more gently-paced track but is much stronger.
The EP closes with Wonderful and Oblique. They’re more of the same really, being inoffensive, totally accessible and broadly solid in their execution.
There is a fine balance between delivering a generic,”radio friendly” record and a forgettable one. Sun Arcana on the whole are on the right side of that line, other than on Everybody. This is a solid effort: a safe one, admittedly, and one that won’t challenge you in any way, but solid, inoffensive and enjoyable enough nonetheless.