Sundials - Never Settle (Cover Artwork)
Staff Pick


Never Settle (2011)

Traffic Street

Last year, Richmond, Virgina's Sundials released an enjoyable 7'' that may have suffered from a bit of a sectarian appeal. The band's first export into LP universe finds the trio crafting a unique median between the cordial yet quirky melodies of Archers of Loaf and the volume of Pavement. Never Settle, if anything, is just unbelievably catchy; but more importantly, it's the perfect stepping stone in the right direction.

The album is raw and the singing is flat, but it's all contextually appropriate. Multiple listens unravel layers that may reveal a tambourine, piano run, or slide guitar–it is admittedly a deceptive quality. However, the pitfalls of 3 Songs are cleanly avoided: The LP knows how to restrain itself, even reaching a haunting, Plan-It-X style dynamic in "San Francisco Courthouse Steps".

Their songwriting establishes nice hooks at an engaging pace. Opener "Either Way" casts a sense of reluctance, stating that "tomorrow is tomorrow either way," a tidy reminder for the ego and a humbling tone-setter for the remainder of the record. Likewise, "Carver Blues" kinda sums up the whole thing for me. Maybe it's simply relatable to a painful degree, but there's something undeniably palpable in the line, "The only thing I leave this house to see is living in a different city." There was potential for the second half to lag, but "Take You in My Coffee" fulfills the energy with a clever demeanor. After that, it's smooth sailing.

Whatever Never Settle misses in originality is quickly made up for with memorability and wit. If Sundials isn't included on your next mixtape, it'd probably be in your best interest to pay your otologist a visit.

The vinyl release of Never Settle is being handled by Toxic Pop.