by JOSS HUTTON Sonic Reducer
It's strange to think that, with the release of this, the Solarflares' fourth studio album proper, Graham Day and Allan Crockford have equaled their long-playing run with this stellar combo's progenitors, those legendary Prisoners. And it's been 22 years between "A Taste Of Pink" and "Laughing Suns". A bizarre notion, yes. An unhappy one, definitely not!
This astonishingly vibrant, hip-shakin' set sounds like nothing less than the album that Messrs. Day and Crockford would've essayed with the Prisoners back in 1983, if organist Jamie Taylor had stayed at music school in Sweden, instead of returning to the fold to record "Thewisermiserdemelza". Well, you should know the rest. An astounding revitalization has occurred in the Solarflares' ranks, maybe prompted by the belated adulation given to the Prisoners since Big Beat's exemplary repackaging of the Kentish legends' back catalogue. Seemingly, only after that ghost was laid, could a new spirit rise ... And it's a monster.
Few modern bands would be hard pushed to match the drive and freshness of the psych-soul gems lurking herein. A walloping opener in anyone's book, Dragging You Down screams outta the gate, all clanging freakbeat rifferama, wailing blues harp, and pin sharp harmonies, asking the question 'why live a lie?', which acts as a lyrical touchstone for the whole set.
Wolf Howard's tirelessly funky sticksmanship, and Parsley's ever-hep Hammond usher-in The Same Story, which continues the proceedings in fine style, with Graham's never-more soulful vocals weaving a tale of claustrophobic love that makes the works of such pretenders to the throne as the Charlatans sound akin to the dog eggs in Brian Wilson's sandpit.
And so it continues, for another dozen sublime tracks, a raging torrent of suss, strut and soul - just like they were 20-year-olds all over again. Jeez, I'd love to see the Dorian Gray-ish portraits in Graham and Allan's attics!
There'll be no liner notes, nor lyrics, with this album. LAUGHING SUNS stands on its own eight feet, not as an example of growing old disgracefully, but of remembering why rock'n'roll was so special in the first place.