This is a review of "Commercial Breakdown" recorded by The Sunshine Underground. The review was written by Lauren Strain in 2006.
It’s here. It’s black. It’s got a whopping fluorescent neon logo on it. It’s in a real plastic case – y’know, one of those that proper singles are packaged in when you buy them from huge chain retailers called things like ‘HMV’ and ‘Virgin Megastores’. It has a price, a barcode, and when the assistant hovers it over a red laser, something beeps and he or she asks you for money. It’s ‘Commercial Breakdown’, and it’s backed by that bastard child of evil-eyed, hungry rhythm, ‘The Way It Is’; a delicious, screamable pair of tunes created solely to batter all others with their sublime sense of rebellious sexiness, simply by lowering their eyelashes and coyly beckoning you to walk them down the aisle. Sorry, did I say walk? I meant writhe and PUNCH and kiss and HISS and fight and DANCE, of course. But I’m sure you knew that already.
Recent Engine Room Records favourite, ‘The Way It Is’, has collisions of handclaps and unhinged effects pedals to sound like a Grand Canyon-sized rumbling pit of gravel imploding midway through the apocalypse whilst the odd dinosaur runs around killing things. Then, after the end of everything, all the survivors gather in a dripping wet jungle on top of a volcano for a muddy, rough, extravagant party; the light show provided by the cracking skies, the drum and bass provided by the aftershock noises of molten lava cascading in on itself somewhere at the centre of the earth. ‘Commercial Breakdown’, though, busts out from the fizzing core of your hifi and sends small fragments of burning plastic missiles shooting around the room, cutting bleeding red tunnels through to your heart via those little floating bones in your ear that keep your balance – or, in this case, make you lose it.
For those who’ve shaken and shivered at the feet of the version previously released on the My Army EP/Dance To The Radio compilation, this one’ll knock you dead. It’s still as raw; just faster, louder, harder, heavier and hotter. And a bit shorter. For the radio, like. Craig’s channelled, electric current of a vocal plummets down the buzzing wires of an overdriven guitar engine merged with interference, zapping your arteries and frazzled nerve-endings with its almost extraordinary ability to resonate. It’s a devilish entity all of its own with a metallic, citric, sharp shock the strength and heat of flying shrapnel. “Sometimes I find it hard to comply with people who don’t look you in the eye”, he snarls in the video, fixing his eye pupils on yours whilst miscellaneous scraps of a materialistic world – books, coffee tables, lamps, televisions – vanish into nowhere. Oh, they’ll look you in the eye, alright, this band. They’ll sway and stamp you into withering submission as they tear every limb from limb and blast red energy at you from the sweaty stage, probably laughing and bursting a few jugulars at the same time, just for the hell of it.
I love The Sunshine Underground for countless reasons. Here are three. Firstly, spinning around beneath the fiery, fierce, muscled body and hulk of everything, you’ll find Stu’s sparkling threads of echoing, glowing guitar lines which sing and hop from octave to octave, top to bottom, like little strung-out galaxies of twinkling notes you might not have noticed the first time around. Secondly, their songs of opinion, judgment, argument, rant, riot and celebration are speared with a power the likes of which you have rarely seen, roasting on a spit of unbearably possessive joy and filth that sometimes makes you question whether you’re dancing in heaven or in hell. Finally, they create such an awesome, unadulterated shaft of ecstatic noise that you want to hug to death and trash to fuck everything you see around you, in equal amounts.
I recommend you do both. Now.