[Reviewed by Peter Marks]
How things have changed in a matter of months for this artist. He’s gone from just another pretty face on Bandcamp to being signed to a label and rising in stature amongst the chattering heads online. His growth as a musician is more than evident on “Sun” with a greater confidence in using his own voice and also far more intricately designed arrangements in the music. Now, I know, that the field for this sort of thing is quite crowded what with software so cheaply and abundantly available. Few seem to have the patience to sit down and focus on the development of what songs they piece together and while so many other names come and go, forever stuck in place, Chris Gurney is not one of them.
This is the perfect album for those crisp, biting days in winter where the skies never change from an omnipotent shade of deadened grey. Go outside and watch the leaves rustle up and down your street; the wind cuts against your face but you don’t care. “Sun” may well just be the most ironically titled record I’ve heard in 2013, there’s nothing warm or affirming to most of it. The lyrics of a song like ‘Weapon’ reveal a cynical view of technology’s re-shaping of the economic landscape. “I got mine”, truly. Are the 80s back, it is beginning to look like it more and more with the stratification we see between those on top and the rest of us who are grateful for what few crumbs we receive.
There is such a reflective array of atmosphere which he’s sealed onto this disc, you can’t help but come away from hearing his music without having questions of where your own life is headed. More importantly, how did you get to where you now are… were things so obvious from the start or did the blinding veneer of youth keep you distracted just long enough for the trap to be sprung. He gives no answers, his tracks flow out of and into one another through transitions I’m just going to term luminous. Each and every song on here has a distinct personality all it’s own. Some are brisk, others grind along pondering reality through the lens of someone who’s gained much experience.
To compare “Sun” to what he did on “Reflect” is simple: he’s in transition. People who weren’t into the “Rising Sky” EP aren’t going to be falling over themselves to seek this one out but if you’ve signed on for the long haul then enjoy this brief interlude into these melodic yet somehow restless waters. His next record is going to be the one I’m most curious about, because with this one he’s shown he can do pretty. Exceedingly well. So where he goes from here is going to be quite telling.
Shut out the world without and immerse yourself, lie back in the low lit room and index these ten songs precisely. This one has a penchant for inserting little details here and there in what he’s doing which I’ve grown accustomed to from only one other, Vince Clark. However, while that one’s made a very successful career out of pop music, Chris is only pausing to take in the view. Believe me, his vocals aren’t all wistful and pretty throughout the length of “Sun”, there’s still a lot of anger in some of these creations but it’s fading. The burning quest to understand one’s self could not have been nailed down any more definitively, and it’s mighty catchy to boot.
Freud would be weeping.