Leicester-based multi-instrumentalist Dan Wright and friends are back with an updated sound, an improved cohesion but a similar world-weary message; this is Stylite 2018. Welcome. Not that the old Stylite didn’t have a certain folk-infused charm, I once likened Dan Wright to Jonny Flynn and there were numerous similarities in vocal approach and topical irony. However, in a saturated marketplace it became a tough ask to be heard resulting in Stylite having hibernated, re-grouped and returned with a sturdier indie pop sensibility without diluting their intelligence.
The Red Sun EP encapsulates the multifarious talents of the four-piece offering up a glimpse into the many musical directions they could yet turn, the EP is merely an amuse-bouche of what is still to come. The title track, ‘Red Sun’, opens up with a dirty guitar riff and Wright seemingly in disaffected mood with the world around him. The track bounces along happily but with a dark underbelly detailing how the world is rapidly going to hell in a hand-cart. As end of the world anthems go, I would be happy to see out my remaining minutes to this soundtrack as the apocalypse descends.
There’s no getting around it, ‘Matilda Matilda’ has much in common with the similarly titled Alt-J single, that’s not to suggest there’s any form of plagiarism taking place. The pace and delicate see-sawing of the delivery is as hypnotic as the percussion, a lilt to submerge yourself in as the Summer nights lengthen and the chilled Prosecco flows. By contrast, ‘Three Over Two’ is angular and jagged; a softer approach to so-called ‘math rock’ both structually and literally. It also acts as a personal reminder of staring out of my bedroom window trying to comprehend algebra.
The EP concludes in a more traditional fashion with ‘Sing Sing’ in which Wright reverts more to his former incarnation and comes over like Neil Hannon without the need to describe batting averages. The final track aside, Red Sun is a band trying on different musical clothes for size and providing a showcase of their collective wares. To be honest, Stylite look promising in all matter of garb and for their next trick must decide whether to continue being jack of all trades or masters of their one true path.
Red Sun is an intelligently thought out opening salvo and if the title track isn’t used as a soundbed to advertise Cornettos by the end of July then I, for one, will be sorely disappointed.
Red Sun EP is out now