(4 out of 5)
The post-shoegaze revival that has taken hold of the indie world over the past couple of years has been something of a mixed blessing. On one hand, there are artists who make music that’s gorgeous, yet so gauzy and wispy as to be nearly nonexistent; on the other, there are artists that focus on crafting evocative songs and then burying them in guitar squall. Sun Airway split the difference, and they split it beautifully. With sturdy songs built on adventurous structures and effective melodies – not to mention the straightforward singing of Jon Barthmus – there’s plenty of substance at work on NOCTURNE OF EXPLODED CRYSTAL CHANDELIER. However, as is made abundantly clear by the glissando effects that open the aptly titled “Infinity,” this Philadelphia duo is equally devoted to crafting a miasmic swoon that emphasizes the music’s emotional core. While none of the musical elements here get buried, it’s notable that they all seem to be given equal weight, whether the National-like lyrical approach of “Waiting on You,” the bouncy melody of “Oh, Naoko” or the thick-tracked guitars of “Put the Days Away.” Yet, rather than resulting in a grey and indistinct soup, those elements combine for sublime effectiveness. It all comes together on the incredibly strong closing track, “Five Years,” which straddles the line between heavy-lidded epic and psychedelic dreamscape.
First appeared Oct. 25, 2010 at Shockhound.com.