APRIL - Sunderlands

April - Sunderlands

12 songs
44:56 minutes
***** **


April is the brainchild of JiBé, a musician from Bordeaux who used to play in the rock / metal band Silence Is Crime. One day he must have got the vocation to do something rather different, so he started writing his own stuff, then recruited his former band mate Flora to share the vocal duties with him, and in 2008 they released as April their first album Locked From The Inside. One year later they were already back with Ten Stones, and again they didn’t let their fans wait long for their meanwhile third album Sunderlands.

My first impression was wide-eyed surprise, because their music sounds on the surface not very metal at all. But then that was probably the intention, and once you spend more time with April, you will notice that some metal elements are still present, except that they are now mixed with many other genres, like indie pop and trip hop. Sunderlands is definitely not the work of a regular band as it is obvious that the music has been diligently crafted together by a single person. The songs rarely sound the same, I’d even say that there is a strong sense of heterogeneity, which on the first half of the album works in the duo’s favour, but then somehow unfortunately loses focus.

But let’s start at the beginning. The opener Breaking Bones has quite a slow beginning, but uses this to build suspense and momentum, and it is right there where you notice the musicians’ metal background. The vocals are shared by JiBé and Flora, this time in English, later on sometimes in French, and it’s this variety of different voices and languages which gives the music a pleasantly schizophrenic quality. Tess’ Reveries and The World I Made are two much softer songs, but they have tremendous vocal arrangements that will convince even the more metal minded people that ballads can be pretty after all. One Hundred Years With You is a more upbeat song that has a certain Nineties alternative rock charm. The second half of the album contains a couple of nondescript pop songs (Dans ce monde ou dans l’autre, Un jour pour te dire) where the combination of the French language with overly saccharine vocal performance carry the material too close to insipid chanson territory. There are still some bright spots, though, like the truly rocking Frame By Frame, Goodbye Earth with its high content of drama, and the second half of the concluding instrumental Alex.

Sunderlands is definitely a well done effort, and occasionally April remind me of The Gathering who also later on infused trip hop beats into their music, although this French duo even has less metal left in their overall sound. If April learn to separate the good ballads from the lacklustre ones, and combine them with their more pathos filled material, they might be on to something really good. Until then I leave them with a favourable seven out of ten rating.

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