1972
Records


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Arab Strap
Echo & The Bunnymen
The Jesus And Mary Chain
Maximum Joy
The Sound


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Past Catalogue
Aphex Twin
Built to Spill
The Durutti Column
Primal Scream
Stereolab
Television Personalities

Mark

The Sound




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The Sound “Jeopardy”




Formed in 1979 and fronted by the mercurial and troubled Adrian Borland (he would commit suicide in 1999 after years of battling depression), The Sound are one of the most unjustly neglected band of the ’80s. They may not be as well-known as their contemporaries Echo & the Bunnymen or Joy Division, but their contributions to the first wave of English post-punk are equally unique and influential.

Fed up with its simplistic structure and rote posturing, Borland cut ties to the punk movement after fronting ’77-era group The Outsiders. Not unlike Magazine’s Howard Devoto, whose similar inclinations led to his leaving The Buzzcocks, Borland wanted to create a sound that relied more on atmospheres, tensions and instrumental interplay while harnessing the urgency of punk’s spirit. With the release of Jeopardy, The Sound turns this inspiration into a nearly perfect debut.

Featuring rough-edged production fitting its £800 recording budget, Jeopardy is a caustic rush, full of songs with hooks and emotional impact that never resort to histrionics. The album’s opener starts off minimally, until the nervy guitars of the chorus rip through the song. This auspicious beginning only hints at what’s to come. Every song that follows builds on the momentum of a complex pop masterpiece. Borland’s lyrics also prove him to be one of the few post-punk songwriters whose words are worth poring over and analyzing.

The album received extremely positive reviews, with NME, Sounds and Melody Maker all bestowing their highest ratings, and influential British DJ John Peel welcomed the band into the studio to record a session. All of the critical praise heaped on the band makes it hard to explain why The Sound never rose to the prominence of the two bands to whom they received the most comparisons—but one only need to listen to Jeopardy to hear Borland’s perfect combination of Joy Division’s dark, tortured angst and Echo & The Bunnymen’s accessible glam/art-rock fusion.





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The Sound “From The Lions Mouth”



For The Sound’s sophomore LP, the group decided to work with producer Hugh Jones (Echo & The Bunnymen, The Teardrop Explodes, Bauhaus). The resulting album is more richly layered than their debut, fusing the band’s atmospheric, affecting sound with a set of accessible yet invigorating songs. At the time, From the Lion’s Mouth gained great marks from the British music press, but did not break the band beyond its devoted cult of fans. Now it is considered a post-punk classic.

A relatively restrained but vital follow-up to the charged and ragged Jeopardy, From The Lions Mouth proves that The Sound’s critical stature among the post-punk elite was no fluke. A more robust recording budget allows them to explore a fuller, more cohesive sound, while Adrian Borland’s lyrics are even more introspective (a jarring turn after the often political bent of Jeopardy). However despondent the singer’s words became, the tone, as pointed out in the original NME review of the album, never descend into “pessimistic wallowing.” Tracks like “Sense of Purpose” and “Contact the Fact” still feature a sweeping urgency and highlight the tension between Borland’s grim worldview and his knack for a hook.

The bleak nature of the lyrics would be the first true displays of Borland’s mercurial nature. While he waged a tragically losing battle with depression for the rest of his life, it’s hard not to view this album as an enduring and fascinating document of the beginnings of madness.



Mark