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Music Review: The Sunset Curse – Artificial Heart

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Back in the days of the "Information Superhighway," an equally unwieldy term was being used to describe the music of Moby and Aphex Twin: Intelligent Techno. I like the title of The Sunset Curse's debut much better, Artificial Heart. It is an appropriate moniker for an album that blends the organic with the inorganic. Artificial Heart is more than a catchy expression though. There is a sense of purpose about this record which boils down to the dichotomy between a hedonistic night in the clubs and the searing pain of personal loss.

Lead track "Silence Yourself" personifies the twin impulses of The Sunset Curse. The song begins with the basic sound of a drum machine and synth. A lyrical tale of alienation follows, and then an explosive guitar enters. Suddenly the cut has taken a turn from the mundane to the extraordinary. The catchy "Too Close To The Sun" follows, and features some brilliantly treated vocals, and a line from Icarus: "Your wings are gonna burn."

The suite of “Artificial Heart,” “Finally Free,” and “Black Cloth” seem to represent the heartbreak vocalist Christopher Owen Nelson suffered with the loss of his father during the sessions. All three songs are much more traditionally oriented than the rest of the album, and each address the subject in their own way. “MSFBF” is a complete change of pace, pulling us back out to the dance floor in no uncertain terms. I love the squealing feedback break the song indulges in, just before dissolving into a totally unexpected ambient rumination.

“MSFBF” segues into the nearly ten-minute “Slow Lover’s Sky,” a cut that separates The Sunset Curse from their dance-oriented brethren in a definitive way. This guitar journey is incredible, up there with the painfully introspective type of expressions that a Steven Wilson or Eddie Hazel have been known for.

The record label is banking on "Flavor" as the breakout tune, and they may be right — after all, it is a bit reminiscent of present-day heroes such as Muse and MGMT. For my money though, The Sunset Curse are much more than sound-alikes. Artificial Heart is one of the most interesting albums I have heard in quite a while.

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About Greg Barbrick