The ever-spinning bronco of club culture is a tricky beast to stay a-straddle. When Leeds funk-punk foursome The Sunshine Underground released their excellent debut album Raise the Alarm in 2006 it filtered the subterranean rhythms of New York’s LCD Soundsystem and The Rapture through sturdy Northern rock song-craft to create a clubwise electro-indie brew. Tracks like Borders and Put You in Your Place were precursors to the more techno-fried ravings of Klaxons, CSS and Hot Chip. Four years on, though, new rave is in the stocks, clubland is full of unicorn-haired femtronicons pouting along to La Roux and the dance guitar seems as woefully Neanderthal as a mammoth bone spork.
So where does that leave The Sunshine Underground in 2010? Chasing the Kasabian dollar, it turns out. Coming on like the twitchy younger brother of West Ryder Pauper Lunatic Asylum that went to uni, this second album shamelessly beefs up the Big Music – that peculiar amalgam of granite guitar, four-to-the-floor drumming and filthy synth splurge that makes you instinctively want to strut around a stage convinced you’re the Second Coming of Liam Gallagher.
Casual listeners beware: the over-riding clamour (imagine White Lies playing in a hurricane) leaves nothing here as starkly accessible as the early hits. You might even be reminded of the blustery wailers that dropped out of the Happy Mondays’ bell bottoms into the early 90s baggy scene or, worse still, The Music. But perseverance uncovers a melodic clout that Lady Gaga would give her rumoured left testicle for. There’s a cultured precision beneath the Killers bellow of Change Your Mind and A Warning Sign, while the brilliant Coming to Save You rattles with subway sedition and Spell It Out is rocket rock beamed direct from Space Station Muse.
Histrionics swamp proceedings in places – there are choruses of In Your Arms where you’ll swear singer Craig Wellington should be the subject of a Bodyshock documentary called The Man With the Grand Canyon for a Gullet – but the clinical tunefulness at the root ultimately reveals itself like a magic eye picture. Impressive, expansive stuff.
Nobody’s Coming to Save You is a record striving to do for music what Avatar does for cinema: produce a sensory-overload epic with tangible depth. Music from the Dalston basement club at the end of the universe. --Mark Beaumont
Find more music at the BBC This link will take you off Amazon in a new window