The latest in my occasional series of music reviews spotlighting releases by Lehigh Valley-based bands.
NOTE: The original version of this post repeatedly and egregiously misspelled Billy Kilgannon’s last name. It’s fixed now. My apologies for the error.
When last I crossed paths with Bethlehem-based pop band Sunday Guts, I was praising them for the catchy guitar-based pop of their Leave It Go EP, while also taking a few unsolicited and subjective digs at frontman Billy Kilgannon’s voice.
The band is back with a new EP that finds it going down a different stylistic avenue, one that I think fits Kilgannon’s style a little better.
The three songs on Wet Salvos find Kilgannon landing with both feet in an ’80s-style synth-pop setting … not entirely dispensing with the guitars, but pushing them into the background.
I am somewhat ill-positioned to evaluate Sunday Guts’ new turn because I didn’t like that style of music much the first time around. I spent the Eighties as a staunch defender of electric guitars. (See previous post.)
Still, I enjoyed this limited dose of electropop. I can easily imagine Wet Salvos’ uptempo first tracks, “Truthman Who?” and “Fun-A-Me,” playing over a club sound system.
The latter song has an especially catchy bridge featuring splashy synths, vocal harmonies and a typically Sunday Guts obscure lyric (“Looks like we’re ready to go / Get on your radio / Gather in the yard / In your uniform.”)
Closing song “Your Golden Age,” while still kitted out in the brash sounds of Eighties synthology, is a little more pensive and thoughtful: “Follow me, and we’ll break the bread and promises, I’m sure.”
Kilgannon’s guitar comes to the fore on the last song, draping it with some uber-’80s ringing, echoed licks that break up the keyboard textures nicely.
Wet Salvos leaves a couple questions of interest unanswered:
– It went up on Bandcamp a week or three ago, but its release date is posted as “01 February 2014.” Does that mean this is just a teaser for a longer upcoming album?
– Is the synth-based sound the future of Sunday Guts? Will the band go back to its earlier sound? Or, will it throw us yet another curveball, and make the next EP reggaeton or Afrobeat or something?
– What the hell does “Wet Salvos” mean, anyway? I went so far as to feed the phrase into the Internet Anagram Server to see if it rearranged to anything meaningful. “Two Slaves”? “Vestal Sow”? “Steal Vows”? “Waves Lost”? I dunno.
Make of it all what you will, anyway; but give it a listen. So far, these guys have yet to take a path that hasn’t been worth following.
Wet Salvos is available here as a name-your-own-price Bandcamp download.