Union Sound Set

Start / Stop

Written by: TL on 15/11/2010 20:55:31

Hands up everyone who thinks that Fightstar, and specifically the singing of Charlie Simpson, is like sex to the ears? Hopefully a good crowd of you people now have your arms up, signifying rightful appreciation for good sound. Now let's see how many know of what the third Simpson brother is doing. Most of you likely know that the eldest Simpson, Will, has a career going with the band Brigade, but how many have been aware of the middle-man, Edd, and his struggles in the band Prego? Actually, nevermind that, each of you who had your hands up in the first place, read on, for this will interest you.

Edd struggled for a while in Prego, a band that never got around to releasing any LP's and lost half it members before really getting off the ground, but instead of folding, Edd and his remaining compadres, Caspar Williamson and Simon Britcliffe, regrouped with the addition of guitarist Dan Best and drummer Alex Walker, and turned a page by writing a bunch of new songs and releasing their first ever full length under a new band name. That would be where the words "Union Sound Set" enter the story.

Now, given how similar Edd's role in Union Sound Set is to the ones of Charlie and Will in Fightstar and Brigade, and given how much his vocals sound like his brothers', it's almost too easy to compare USS to the other Simpson bands. It's justified too, because the debut LP "Start / Stop" does indeed sound quite a bit like something Fightstar could've come up with, except for its seeming choice of omitting the heavier elements, and instead focusing more on the exploration of cinematic, post-rock-ish soundscapes.

However, while I've read descriptions of the band's sound like "Fightstar meets Arcade Fire" or "[...] in the vein of Band Of Horses and The National" and while I can sort of see where those are coming from, I think that more than anything, USS sound like a quality post-rock band having abandoned megalomanic progression in favour of a restrained approach to song writing, and a friendly relationship with front-stage vocals and big choruses.

What that adds up to, is an album full of songs that all deploy vast, epic sounding atmospheres, yet always tie them down and make them accessible via the soulful singing of Edd Simpson. Does this mean that post-rock purists will call "sellouts" and turn away from the band? Maybe, but for the rest of us, it means a small dozen of songs that are not only beautiful in sound, but also easy on our recognition. Personally, I'm am especially swept by the central tripod of tracks four to six, "Here's To You", "Years ; Days ; Months" and "This Will Change Us", with especially the latter striking me as a stunner, easily capable of momentarily invoking the romanticist in most people.

Taking a critical angle though, I guess it could be argued that the cinematic elements utilized here, are hardly original fare to anyone accustomed to post-rock, and that their implication could've been done with more variation over the course of the record. As far as I'm concerned however, I think that while this point is valid, it is also a price I'll gladly pay on a debut album, if it buys me songs that can make an impression, not only on me, but also on people who are not at all used to listening to bands of this kind. And that I think, is the case here, and quite consistently so, as "Start / Stop" really just pleases and engages the ear from end to end, and any complaints you might have about it are likely to belong in the department of "insignificant details".


Download: This Will Change Us, Years ; Days ; Months, Here's To You
For The Fans Of: Fightstar, Brigade, Lights Action
Listen: myspace.com/unionsoundset

Release Date 24.10.2010
Mighty Atom

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