Suns - Close Calls in the U.S. Space Program / The Howl and the Many (Cover Artwork)
Staff Review


Close Calls in the U.S. Space Program / The Howl and the Many (2010)


Originally recorded as a single full-length, Suns opted to break up nine songs into two EPs, thus creating Close Call in the U.S. Space Program and The Howl and the Many. However, they also decided to release these two EPs together on one compact disc (and fo' free on the Internet), so there goes the whole "separate movements" idea.

That backstory is boring, I'll admit, but I think it illustrates something about Suns. Like that story, the band tends to be needlessly roundabout and indulgent, and for all the detail they pack into their songs, they're not nearly as smart as they think they are. Suns have a sound vaguely melding Radiohead's grandeur with late-period Brand New's expansive rock with a dash of everything you hated about the New Amsterdams. But mostly, they just come off sounding like a better-than-average version of the Fray.

What's funny about this revelation is that had Suns bothered to separate the two EPs, their sound might stand a chance. They've got some decent orchestral ideas. These songs, when broken up, have a nice, expansive aura without getting too repetitive. Sometimes they rock ("Everything Changes"), but mostly they meander. And that's something the double EP concept makes clear. The tracks were all written over the course of the members' first year together, and while the players have some cool ideas, they haven't quite figured out how to fit all the pieces together. Given another year or two, Suns might have something worth hearing. Right now they're just wasting time.