I know what you've been thinking: When's he going to review some more Belgian indie-rock? Well, don't worry, the time has come, and how could I resist the opportunity to review an album frontman Pascal Deweze described as "homo-erotic rock without the glitter"? Sukilove formed in Antwerp in 2002 and have gained a reputation at home for twisted pop and textured songwriting. When Mojo magazine commissioned a Beatles cover project, Sukilove contributed Love You To and the band have also enjoyed support slots with David Bowie. Their new album is available through Jezus Factory Records and the band will be playing some live dates in the UK between 28th November and 5th December.
So, what does twisted pop and layered songwriting mean? Well, I know I keep making this comparison but there are plenty of moments that sound like Radiohead on this album and Deweze's voice inhabits the same kind of register as Thom Yorke although he seldom takes the opportunity to break free or use more of his register. New Beginning begins with a bouncy bass which isn't a million miles away from sounding like a slower version of that which underpins the theme tune to Flash Gordon. There are layered vocals and a melody which manages to sound positive and twisted at the same time. There is good use of haunting piano lines on tracks like 4AM but the backing vocals are never quite fully wedded to the rest of the track. Rebel rocks out with power chords and the kind of amplified bowed-strings that made Jeff Wayne's War Of The Worlds soundtrack such a prog-rock powerhouse. There's something very dramatic about a track that has so many sections to it; think Bohemian Rhapsody or Paranoid Android. You need something gentler after that onslaught and Sugareyes is just that, still multi-sectioned but progressing slowly to its layered conclusion. This is certainly music that doesn't intend to leave you short-changed, each track often bursting with ideas, whether or not these always come together successfully is another matter. Memory As A Skull is a bit of a mess for example and contains a strange section where Deweze sounds as though he is trying to clear a frog in his throat.
First single Choose Your Gods has a nice melody underpinned by a bass line which threatens something else. This comes in the middle when jangled guitars are at odds to the melody and at the end when they combine with that bass. The video below gives you a chance to hear it and if the contradicting elements aren't to your taste then this may not be the album for you.
By persevering into the second half of the album there are some real moments of interest. Fear, a track which doesn't begin with much promise develops nicely with Deweze showing that he has far more in the tank vocally than we had imagined as he hollers the refrain "We're all just meat/Waiting to die". Contemplaying has an interesting 2/2 rhythm that makes the track trip along with menace and the album closes with Leave Me Alone, perhaps the most overtly Radiohead track, which combines powerful guitars with gentle piano and soft vocals. It's certainly not a dull album, If Deweze could make more use of his full range and try and control some of the songwriting so that tracks don't become overwhelmed by too many ideas then Sukilove could be capable of producing something really special.