Silver Sun - Switzerland (Flaberghasted Records)

Silver Sun – Switzerland (Flaberghasted Records)

Amongst all the anoraks, mono brows, mod haircuts, Adidas as far as the eye could see and Gibson guitars, there were some groups taking things a little less seriously in 90’s indie landscape.

Silver Sun were born and raised in North London in the mid to late nineteen nineties with a smidgen more of a penchant for the Spinal Tap absurdity of rock’n’roll than your average Britpopper. Before the Manic Street Preachers, James Broad and friends stole the sun but pumped into our hearts with their overblown summer beach party pop. If Brian Wilson had pitched up in Camden 30 years later than he did in California, having already existed and created surf rock’n’roll, he would have been in Silver Sun, or he would have been Mr Broad.

Their debut eponymous LP in 1997 dripped with close harmonies and heavy distorted guitars that seemed to borrow from the lighter side of U.S Grunge and slacker alternative rock and injected a sense of British humour direct into the larynx. Singles such as ‘Lava’, ‘Golden Skin’ and ‘Julia’ should have meant they soundtracked every summer party from here to Glastonbury.

Come 1998 they released their second record Neo Wave with a little more fanfare as their cover of a Johnny Mathis classic ‘Too Much, Too Little, Too Late’ saw a top 20 hit and MTV airplay propel them in the post-Britpop afterbirth, a rock placenta if you will, only to be chewed up and spat out by Polydor a year later.

On his own, James Broad has continued to plough the furrow, occasionally with the help of members of the original group but his re-location to the West Country meant the dynamic changed, and he assumed the Silver Sun moniker.

In the intervening years he has released a handful of LP’s, including 2005’s Disappear Here and 2013’s A Lick and A Promise but this is his first in 7 years and includes the original members making cameos.

This may have been prompted by their support for Sleeper at a London gig shortly after they had reformed in 2017, and they also played a set at the StarShaped Britpop Club Night.

The shows seem to have given them a new lease of life, as this is an LP that lines up with their first two records and includes some of their best songwriting.

Earth Girls Are Easy’ seems to have been born from the same organs as ‘Cheerleading’ from Neo Wave, the pace is fast and furious and a nice early punch in the face to wake you up your Lockdown slumber and lethargy.

Fireworks’ is classic Silver Sun, perfectly pitched melodic and crunchy distortion, stop start drums in the chorus and that Broad magic as if he is part of some kind of musicians magic circle and he’s giving out all the secrets.

Needle In the Ball Pit´ perhaps or perhaps not, accidentally steals the “Chucklevision” theme tune in the chorus but it works to a tee and should be seen as a beautiful homage. Or just a ridiculous coincidence.

Photograph’ leans towards their genteel side, more ‘Too Much, Too Little, Too Late’ than the fast paced, punkier side to their sound, but is some of James’ strongest songwriting, and a chorus melody of pop perfection that you think must have been stolen but as you can’t put your finger on it, what does it matter.

Big Wheel’ is nothing short of a power pop masterclass, right up there with their best work from two decades ago. One of the endearing elements to their debut was the random and damn right bonkers lyrics which is once again weird and wonderful here.

Chain of Command‘ is really quite reminiscent of early (good) Green Day, possible circa Nimrod. However, then an ELO guitar solo pulls it in an unexpected and pretty crackers direction.

Original Girl‘ has you wondering who this sounds similar to, until you realise it is, in fact, Silver Sun.

The characters contained in a Silver Sun song may be cartoonish but speak of the human condition in an abstract and warped way. And then sometimes they are just stupendous gibberish about drugs in seeds and nonsense anagrams of months of the year.

Whereas there are those making the kind of ignorable lift music in their bedrooms, James Broad is continuing a rich legacy with his home recordings with the help of his friends.

There is no escaping that this is textbook Silver Sun but nothing is broken here and nothing to fix, except he’s possibly brought his A game for the first time since the 90’s.

The sun is shining, but it’s not all gold, it’s silver.

God is in the TV is an online music and culture fanzine founded in Cardiff by the editor Bill Cummings in 2003. GIITTV Bill has developed the site with the aid of a team of sub-editors and writers from across Britain, covering a wide range of music from unsigned and independent artists to major releases.