When Bad Suns came into the light of the Indie Rock scene in late 2013, I was instantly enamored with their unique style of 70’s and 80’s-era post-punk all packaged in a new and vibrant form. Now on their third full-length album, Mystic Truth does little to change my glowing opinion of this young band that continues to show amazing growth and promise. Filled with shiny guitar-driven rock, this album shows staying power in being in our rotations well throughout the Spring and early-Summer seasons.
Kicking off the set with the first single, “Away We Go” paints lead singer Christo Bowman in search for love and purpose as he sings, “I need some love and affection/I’ve got no sense of direction or what to do/I hear a song on the radio that breaks through/Yeah, that’s right, I’m talking to you.” The song itself is a great reminder of the pop sensibilities that Bad Suns have come closer to perfecting in the early stages of their career and is a nice opener to a set of songs that gel well together.
“One Magic Moment” follows the opener with some well-placed keyboards interspersed throughout with a well-crafted hook leading into the chorus. The underrated player on the track is drummer Miles Morris who creates some unique beats and interesting fills to make the song well worthy of multiple listens. The themes of being “on their way” as noted in the lyrics and finding a sense of self are located throughout the album that searches for its place as we navigate through it.
My personal favorite, “A Miracle, A Mile Away” gets us closer to the headspace of Bowman as he opens with, “Invisible until I want to be/I’m miserable on a beautiful day/Take one look around you/And you just might find/A miracle, a mile away.” I’m sure many of us have felt at one time or another of wondering where our place is in this crazy, question-filled world only to come just short of the full answer. The song features some great falsetto vocals (courtesy of Bowman) and some breezy guitar playing from Ray Libby. Of all the songs that came together on Mystic Truth, this was the one track that made me think, “maybe this band is really on to something great here.”
Bad Suns continue to search for purpose on the introspective “The World and I,” while they create their version of the Counting Crows’ “Accidentally in Love” with a gem of their own in “Love By Mistake.” They take us on a bit of a detour on their journey for love in the bridge where they croon, “We’ve got mountains to climb/The roads will wind/Celestial bodies in orbit/We’re just out of our minds/We still have time/I say let’s move forward/The forecast says it won’t last.” The metaphors of comparing their physical environment to their outlook on relationships is clever and showcases their improvements in their songwriting craft as a whole.
Where “Darkness Arrives (And Departs)” is a bouncy, down-tempo track about going through the ups and downs of a troubled relationship. Bowman’s lyrical content continues to rely on the visions of what’s around him, while still attempting to have a positive outlook on the unknown. This story of a relationship that turns sour comes to a crescendo with “Hold Your Fire.” Bowman sings, “New York lights/Red wine nights/Spiral stairs/Climb three flights/Four hard knocks/Switched on lights/She says, “Please, I don’t want to cry tonight.” We’ve all come to a make-or-break moment in many of our relationships that we have needed to take a second to reflect on how it all came to be, and this song does a great job of summarizing exactly what that point in time feels like.
“Howling at the Sun” is one of the more straight-forward songs on the record, and it’s, unfortunately, one of the more forgettable moments on an LP that contains many redeeming qualities. Luckily, the follow-up song of “Separate Seas” gets the train back on the tracks with a song filled with desperation. If ever there was a boiling point in the story of this relationship, it’s evident here as Bowman pleads his case that his “love’s here to stay.” The moment comes across as a “heart on my sleeve,” endearing moment of innocence.
The album closer takes an out-of-body journey into the twilight in the epic “Starjumper.” What starts as a tender ballad of drifting away into the abyss, possibly from this relationship in flux, crescendos into a great message of hope and perseverance. Things may not always work out the way we intend them to, but to stay in tune with our surroundings and environment can be a powerful tool in finding our meaning.
Overall, Mystic Truth turned out to be one of my favorite releases thus far in 2019 since it delivers in its promise of finding a sense of self-worth amongst the chaos. Bad Suns have created a record that surpasses many of my expectations for what the band was capable of making and at the same time invites us on this journey into the unknown. The answers are not always there when we need them to be, yet the mystery of it all leaves us coming back for more.