'Until We Shine Again'
Released: 3rd October 2014
Luke 'Loki' Milne
Hailing from Jyväskylä, Finland, alternative rock act Sumia are celebrating the international release of their debut album, 'Until We Shine Again', which was released to online stores on October 3rd. The band have been in action since 2011, and boast a wide array of musical influences, from melodic hardcore and punk and all the way to hip-hop and electro.
With such a broad range of musical backgrounds nestled into one album, one might expect to find 'Until We Shine Again' to be an album that is thick with quick and clever genre flickers and creative displays of both musicianship and composition... but does this expectation match the outcome of Sumia's debut release?
The opening tracks of 'Until We Shine Again' demonstrate Sumia to be a broadly commercial and accessible alt-rock act, with a sound that will undoubtedly reach out to a wide range of music fans, be they of an alternative music taste or not. It's synonymous of many commercial alt-rock bands in circulation at the moment, and given that it's well-covered gronnd the band are sure to find success with their debut release.
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There's a certain atmosphere within the music of 'Until We Shine Again'; one that douses the listener in a warm and comforting glow that invokes an almost pensive state of mind. Here is a style of music that would fit perfectly as a backdrop soundtrack to a relaxed environment or hazy feel-good social gathering. Each track is laced with clear-cut and dreamy melodic movement, airy choruses and a cool, uplifting vibe throughout.
It's quite charming in it's delivery, and the band's vocalist (apparently known only as Jonni) has a quality to his voice that is remarkably soothing and easy on the ears... aside from the occasional ((and rather welcome) metal-esque growling outbursts spattered here and there.
Sumia's musical skill is undeniably present throughout Until We Shine Again, however around four tracks into the album I begin to find that the musical content seems to be falling a little flat around my ears overall. The contrast, contours and overall movement that shapes an album into a living, almost breathing audio experience simply doesn't seem to feature within Sumia's debut release.
Each track seems to be a slightly altered echo of the last, and although this isn't an entirely negative point (as what Sumia are doing IS good) there seems to be very little in the way of movement or exploration of the band's varied influences. In spite of the broad and intriguing palette of musical backgrounds cited at the beginning of this review, 'Until We Shine Again' seems to paint a rather monochromatic picture, focussing on what seems to be a fairly limited pool of influential resources.
That's not to say that the album is boring, mind you. Each individual track demonstrates a strong level of musicianship from Sumia, and there are key moments throughout their debut album that show the band seemingly struggling to break out of this loop. The aforementioned punk and melodic Hardcore elements raise their head above the sand momentarily, and it is here that Sumia's music arcs towards a crescendo with a promising rise in atmosphere, but ultimately these moments only fade back into the restraints of a more commercial "comfort zone", with little of a satisfying breach into a more lively sound.
It's a shame, as I really wanted to enjoy the album as a whole. Having said that, we live in modern times, and as such there is always a solution to every problem. In the era of online music downloads, the general public are presented with an immeasurable library of songs and albums available at just the click of a button.
Though perhaps Sumia's Until We Shine Again may not deliver a "complete" album experience, fans of their music will naturally be able to single out their favourites, adding them to playlists among other styles music that will synthesise an evolving musical experience.
Sumia's debut release may struggle to hold together as a single entity, but each of the ten album tracks featured within are thick with atmosphere and charm that will add flavour to any mix of music.