How often does music effectively convey the emotions that have been put into it? How often do lyrics and music truly fit and complement each other? I really don’t think it happens that often. I’m not a lyrics kind of guy, mostly because, most of the time, the lyrics don’t really do anything to me or they are plain stupid. And when does the music itself ever really seem heartfelt? There are so many examples of bands that are great at songwriting, who handle their instruments perfectly, but on that important emotional level, it just isn’t what it could be. Still, it can be great music. Take Opeth for example. Boy, can those guys make music! The sheer awesomeness of some stuff they put to record is something to behold. But much of their back catalog really doesn’t convey any emotion, at least to me, that is. It’s actually quite cold, buried somewhere between all that awesome-sounding stuff. It’s really very much like a rollercoaster ride. You get overwhelmed with all kinds of input and it feels great, you enjoy it, but does it move you in any other way?
What’s my point here, you ask? Well, with 40 Watt Sun‘s debut LP I have one example here of music that does everything right, at least most of the time. Everything forms a cohesive whole, it just fits. And while the lyrics about longing and hope might not be the most original thing on earth, they simply fit the music. You might call them cheesy or cliche, but I like ’em, because they’re delivered with a lot of emotion.
This LP is being held up as the “doom record of the year,” but I don’t really see how this is doom metal, really. Yeah sure, it’s got huge riffs and it’s slow, but this is more like a collection of ballads in slow motion, really. The subject matter doesn’t fit the genre at all, the overall feeling and atmosphere doesn’t either. This record is about relationships, about hope, it’s about the silver lining, not about impending doom and despair. It’s a very warm record, it’s elating, not depressing. No doom acts come to mind as reference points when I listen to this. This is a very introspective and heartfelt piece of music, and the doomy style of the instruments is just how these guys seem to prefer to play their instruments, it doesn’t mean this is doom metal, because it really isn’t.
But 40 Watt Sun do everything right on this one, at least most of the time. 3 of the 5 tracks they packed onto this LP are memorable pieces of music (“Restless,” “Open My Eyes,” and “Carry Me Home”). They are able to keep my attention for 10 minutes, have very memorable melodies, and are great music that deserve all the praise that’s been given to them. The other two (“Between Times,” “This Alone”), while not being bad per se, simply aren’t that memorable and drone along a little too much. They are a little too monotonous and they don’t have a clearly defined theme draws my attention all the way to the finish line. But like I said, they’re by no means bad and they fit perfectly into the whole. This really isn’t an album with individual tracks, this has to be listened in one sitting. It has a flow to it and the tracks work best as parts of a big picture.
Another thing I also have to mention in this review is the production. A production can be lo-fi, muddy and dirty if it fits the music. In this case, however, it really doesn’t. A cleaner production style really would’ve made this a better record. The drums sound weak and distant, the guitars sound muddy and way too fuzzed-out, and the overall sound is quite muted, without any real power to it. But on a positive note, there are synths that really complement the music in a great way, they emphasize the overall mood and atmosphere of it.
All of that said, if you’re into slow, heavy, melodic music, you’ll probably like this. This is an emotional, heartfelt piece of music worthy of your attention.