Colonel Sun‘s debut album Suburban Invasion is a throwback to a time when everyone wore flannel, tuned down their guitars, and shouted to the high heavens about internal torture or bratty indifference. Call it a pledge to simpler times or an existential meltdown, but Suburban Invasion almost dials the clock back. There are times when you can really hear old-school Mudhoney rearing their beautifully ugly heads. The only thing it is lacking is enough charm and lyrical proficiency to pull it all off.
For me, the first setback with this EP is the vocal styling of Scott Cook. It’s not that he possesses an unlistenable voice. In fact, he fits right in with the music he writes. It’s more that he lacks range. His foaming-at-the-mouth dog bark is utterly convincing but, like an actual dog hellbent on intimidation, it loses its fear factor after a while and has me wanting to carry on with my day. It wouldn’t be such a problem if some of the lyrics weren’t cringe-inducing and a bit too straightforward. I mean, the themes presented are relatable, and Cook is trying to tell a story here, but I really can’t get past verses like, “Think I’m gonna fuck it/ fuckin’ watch me, hittin’ the road/ it’s time for me to pack my shit, slam the door, leave for good, Spider Queen.” Honestly, it makes me long for a fucking metaphor, and don’t get me started on the excessive swearing! Less is always more with an F-bomb. If used too much, it can come off as not having anything truly hard-hitting to say, which seems applicable here.
Now, why give this EP a passing grade, you might ask? Well, once you push past the sometimes unintentionally funny lyrics, the music is actually pretty hard-hitting, catchy, and even groovy. Mishka Stein’s opening bass riff on “Suburban Invasion” is so BADASS that when Cook and Simon Angell come in with their appropriately chugging guitar riffs, I feel like I’m about to watch the opening scene of Mission Impossible 2. Seriously, listen to that intro a bunch of times, and you’ll be rock climbing a canyon like Tom Cruise before you know it!
“Lullaby” and “Sucker Blues” are where Colonel Sun really hit their stride though, and I hope that they expand in this direction for future writing sessions. The lyrics and melodies of these two tracks are sparse, better thought out, and even purposefully humorous. “Lullaby” is especially biting as it tells the story of a driver in desperate need of sleep, but whose overall stubbornness gets him killed. He can only look on from beyond the grave, regretfully wishing he had just pulled to the side of the road one second sooner. It’s all still very on-the-nose, but matched with a primal guitar riff and a pedal-to-the-metal rhythm section, there is nothing foul-smelling about it!
As a throwback, I will say that Suburban Invasion has almost successfully taken from the genre’s history and made something of this time. The songwriting still needs works though, especially in the lyric department. Grunge has never been about lyrical complexity or subtlety, but adding effective writing techniques and a little more wit seriously couldn’t hurt. Colonel Sun has the aesthetic and musical chops, now all they need to do is make me want to fucking sing-along.
Written by: Shawn Thicke
*Edited by Kate Erickson