It's somewhat sobering to realise that it is nigh on thirty years since the release of 'Nevermind' and that 18 months to two year period between '91 and '93 when grunge dominated the alternative scene. In the UK at least, the following ten to fifteen years then saw 'Parklife', 'Wonderwall' and the Britpop 'craziness' of the mid-nineties followed by the blues-duo sounds of Jack 'n' Meg and The Black Keys, the 'cooler than school' indie of the likes of The Strokes and Interpol, and the 'cartoonish' Britpop Pt 2 of The Libertines and Kaiser Chiefs, and as a result, with the exception of Kurt 'n' his mob and one or two others (Pearl Jam, Soundgarden) that whole grunge era has rather taken a backseat - us Brits would rather reminisce about Gene than we would Silverchair!
The debut album, 'Geek Confessions', from Toronto trio Sunlust brings it all back. All the grunge identifiers are there - the loud-quiet-loud passages, the Courtney Love inflected rasp, the somewhat down-at-heel lyrics and the pounding rhythms and fuzzed-up guitars. Is this a bad thing? Absolutely not - this is a fabulous record. It grabs you from the opening few seconds of the lead-off track 'Existor', with its exciting guitar riff ushering us into a fast 'n' furious tune complete with Stephanie Woulfe's husky, impassioned vocals (with those airy BV's you find residing on Breeders and Veruca Salt records) and the dynamic rhythm playing of bassist Stefano Signorile and drummer Daniel Wiktor, that leaves you exhilarated by the end. Another hefty slice of grunge, 'Pearl Brain' leads into one of the album's highlights - the recent single 'Action Figure'. With a catchy, insistent riff in the verse (which brings a smile to the face) and a powerful fuzzed-up chorus, the track is one that should become a 'mosh-pit anthem' and climb singles charts (rock and otherwise) everywhere.
Debut single 'Orange' with its dubby bass intro and breakdown complete with tribal style drumming, once again shows off the skills of Stef and Dan and prefaces two tracks that race with breakneck speed and intensity. 'Year Of The Rat' - for me another highlight of the album - with its urgent riffing, descending basslines, interesting guitar sounds and song structure is a real 'tour de force' while 'Whippets' continues the 'race you to the end' vibe in breathless and glorious fashion. If 'Big Clothes' plays 'Come As You Are' / 'Lithium' to 'Whippets'' 'Breed' a little too closely, next track 'Magnum Opus' (another single) is a stomping delight with a great mid-song breakdown. The album finishes with two slower tracks which shows the variety of Stephanie's songwriting to fine effect - 'Goodbye' with it's 'spooky' slightly menacing vibe and sudden explosions of sound towards the end, and 'Sad Sap' with its melancholy air - and helps to bring this excellent album to an intriguing end.
'Geek Confessions' is a vibrant, exciting record with plenty to shout about and hardly a chance to catch your breath. It contains fantastic songwriting, top-notch playing and a confident air that counters its debut album status, and if it touches on many of those early 90s grunge / alternative records it is to its credit. Lest we forget, there's a whole generation of kids out there who weren't even about at the time; they should make Sunlust their favourite new band 'tout suite' and have 'Geek Confessions' on constant rotation, while us older folks should forget Menswear ever existed (Christ, we're trying!) and reacquaint ourselves with some great alternative sounds through this fantastic album.
'Geek Confessions' is available on the digital site of your choice and from Sunlust's Bandcamp page - www.sunlust.bandcamp.com