Thursday, July 24, 2008

Sunset: The Glowing City

I have a running list of songs that would go in the soundtrack of my life (does everybody do this?). When I hear one of these songs I'm transfixed to each beat, anxiously trying to file it in my memory, and find out what it describes about me so well. Point being, when I turned on Sunset's newest effort The Glowing City and "Zombies" came on, I knew it was one of those songs. The track opens the CD with a delicate blend of keys, clapping, belles and air bursts. It sets the stage for the rest of the CD, a glowing melody paired with reflective lyrics.

Some of the best moments on the album are steady buildups and quiet murmurs that happen at the beginning and end of each song. Just as "Zombies" starts with a colorful wash of instruments, "Just a Phase" starts soft clicking, steadily incorporates drums, and then an electronic voice. The subtleties are really what make this album beautiful, and you'll be shocked at the complexity that comes out if you listen to it really loud, or with amazing headphones.

Most of the tracks on the album are either playfully upbeat or somberly meditative, but the best ones manage to be both. My favorite track "You've Never Lived a Day in Your Life" uses pulsing electronic beats like blood boiling under the surface, and then a flurry of guitars at the onset of the chorus. This track in particular highlights the brilliance of Bill Baird's vocals on The Glowing City. He takes great care in how he says each word, and packs emotion exactly where it is needed. For example, he almost grits the word life when he says "you've never lived a day in your life", and it is one of the best instances on the album. (My chart review below).

"The Glowing City" is a melancholic album filled with personal transitions and hard lessons learned in life, yet the heavy-hearted lyrics are transformed by sparkling instrumentation. It is officially time to start celebrating Bill Baird's Sunset. For Austinites you can start tomorrow night at Progress Coffee, as they host performances by Sunset and Brazos.
from The Glowing City
from Bright Blue Dream
from the Daytrotter Session (don't miss it)