When you consider what Sonic Syndicate used to sound like, it beggars belief that guitarist Robin Sjunnesson –the sole remaining member left from 2005’s Eden Fire debut – believes using the name can still be of any use to him. To call Confessions a metal record would be a barefaced fib, with the album being rather a pop record with heavy guitars occasionally inserted for effect among the house music-influenced piano runs and melodic choruses. Surely a change in name would have been in order?
That’s not to say that Confessions is a bad record – far from it. In fact there are some frighteningly good songs here, with both Falling and It’s a Shame being prime examples of top notch modern pop writing and production methods. The trouble is most of the big melodies are naggingly familiar, or seem to have cropped up elsewhere on other people’s albums. Still Believe, massive hit potentiality notwithstanding, could quite literally have featured on any album from the likes of Miley Cyrus, Taylor Swift or Ellie Goulding released over the last couple of years. And it’s not just the modern pop idols the band have been pickpocketing – The start of the song Burn to Live is heavily, heavily redolent of the Kim Carnes chestnut Bette Davis Eyes…
The heaviest track, I Like it Rough, is a rousing, anthemic romp that’ll be back on my stereo a lot in the next few months, but there really are slim pickings here if you can’t stomach the more sumptuous pop filth that constitutes most of this album.
Nathan James Biggs has never sounded as comfortable behind the mic, his r n’b inflected voice covering everything he’s given to sing with ease; The man has a great voice for this kind of material, the sort of voice pop radio eats up in 2016, and you can well imagine tracks like Life is Not a Map becoming staples on commercial radio with a bit of luck and a following wind.
It’s hard not to like the material on offer here, especially if you can block out your memories of what the old Sonic Syndicate used to sound like. If you can’t, or won’t, then Confessions is best avoided.