The Sarandons “Sightlines”

Green Awning Records, 2023

Toronto stalwarts deliver a debut studio album full of radio-friendly indie rock.

artwork for The Sarandons album "Sightlines"The Sarandons hail from Ontario’s capital city and are made up of Dave Suchon on lead vocals and guitar, Damian Coleman bass and backing vocals, Edmund Cummings keyboards and backing vocals, Craig Keeney lead guitar, and Phil Skott drums. They first gathered attention for their eponymous EP that came out at the end of 2019 and though the onset of the pandemic scuppered the opportunity to promote as they would have wished as soon as restrictions were lifted they were back in the recording studio for a second EP ‘Outrunning’ that was released during the summer of 2021 quickly followed a few months later by the full-length live album ‘Live At Green Awning Pines’. Now at the start of 2023 they return, this time with their first full-length studio album ‘Sightlines‘ recorded under the watchful eye of Dan Hosh on production duty and with their sights clearly set on breaking into the world of radio-friendly Indie rock.

The album opens with ‘Letting On’ and immediately states its intent with a driving rhythm section, plenty bright sustained chords from the guitars and a catchy singalong chorus. Suchon’s lead vocals are strong and there are moments lyrically such as “Have you come for my ghost? Are you here to just even the score?” that suggests a level of intrigue and depth that are sadly never fully explored instead choosing a rather more insipid route back to the refrain. Track three ‘So Long’ follows a similar theme, full of powerful pop sensibilities but again the narrative is vague lacking any real lyrical identity. The title track ‘Sightlines is structurally more interesting with its counterpoint baselines and edgy rhythm section evoking an early eighties indie rock vibe topped off by some flash guitar playing from Keeney. The interest level is raised another notch by ‘State To State’ where everything is slowed down allowing a gently strummed acoustic guitar and some delicate piano from Cummings to draw the listener in before keeney this time offers a much more subtle and imaginative guitar solo.Here again Suchon teases with another one-liner “our just rewards must have been lost in the post” that surely deserved to be expanded on but alas the opportunity for a more cinematic narrative is overlooked. The highlight of the album is track eight ‘Too Many Whiskies’ which was the opening and only track from this collection to appear on last year’s live album. Here we have a sound and overall feel akin to that of The Jayhawks or even early seventies Rolling Stones with some feisty honky tonk piano from Cummings and delightful guitar from Keeney. In fact the whole band sound looser, more relaxed and much less forced than anywhere else on the album and even Suchon’s reflective narrative has more focus and direction. In truth the track seems slightly at odds with the rather more formulaic sound that’s gone before but things return to type for the last two tracks ‘In Time’ and ‘Honey Then The Bee’.

With this their debut album ‘Sightlines’ The Sarandons have clearly set their intentions on tapping into the lucrative musical world of melodic indie rock with ten songs full of catchy choruses, vibrant rhythms, accentuated guitar riffs, and sturdy vocal harmonies all covered in layers of glossy synths from the production team. The band are tight as you would expect having been playing together, all be it in different projects, for over a decade and the album definitely has its high points. However, they tend to lack a real sense of self-identity and it’s somewhat doubtful that any of the tracks here have enough of a unique sound to give them an edge in what is a very congested field. There is though plenty here to build on, and possibly a little more time is required for them to find a sound that is uniquely their own.

6/10
6/10

About Graeme Tait 110 Articles
Hi. I'm Graeme, a child of the sixties, eldest of three, born into a Forces family. Keen guitar player since my teens, (amateur level only), I have a wide, eclectic taste in music and an album collection that exceeds 5.000. Currently reside in the beautiful city of Lincoln.
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