Sat as I am by a keyboard connected to an electronic system undreamed of in my youth that gives me access to all the information in the world I’m likely to need, and being in a position that I’m unlikely to be recognised by any reader of this article who isn’t already a friend, it would be easy to pretend to be an authority on all music as some reviewers seem to do so. However, I’ll be honest in a way apparently impossible for the current US Commander in Chief and admit that I’d never heard of Second Sun before being offered what turns out to be their second album ‘Eländes Elände’ for review. Indeed, if I’d been played the album and told in a convincing manner that this was a recent find reel to reel tape from a secret recording session by the legendary Nin Huguen and the Huguenotes I’d have been none the wiser. It is, rather, a project composed of assorted young Swedish rockers who have a far darker metal pedigree, but also find a need to channel their flare wearing and love bead clad inner children of love, and this is the format they’ve chosen.
‘Vems Fel’ opens the album to a guitar line that is lifted straight from the archives of The Old Grey Whistle Test, and it would be all too easy to imagine a grinning Whispering Bob Harris introducing the band as “a new sensation from the home of Abba” as they plugged their instruments into valve powered amps before rocking out. This same seventies psyche rock sensibility continues unabated into ‘Forneka Alt’, albeit there is less of a sixties hippy sound about it, moving like the decade away from love and peace into a technical Prog sound, whilst the Hammond organ dominates ‘Noll Respekt’, carrying the tune every bit as much as the guitar. If you’ve heard the rocking sounds of Focus, and there’s so much more to them than the yodelling of ‘Hocus Pocus’, it is something that will more than familiar. Hell, a couple of decades later the likes of the Inspiral Carpets would make it the cornerstone of their own hippy-trippy sound during the short lived “Madchester” era.
It’s not just the instrumentation that helps the band travel so convincingly backwards in time, albeit it is a massive part of the whole atmosphere, but the vocals are redolent of that bygone era too, with ‘Sang till en slagen Kampe’ (‘Sing To A Successful Match’ according to an online translation) combining high clear male lead vocals with highlighting female harmonies that have the feeling of a big pre-disco seventies Eurovision sound; damn, I really am dating myself here! Indeed, whilst there is a solid space-rock/psychedelic feel to much of the album, each and every track has a short, almost poppy length, eschewing overlong set pieces of Prog noodling in favour of cramming ten tracks into the album, each with their own separate, yet familiar sound. It’s not just rock that they have in the mix, but some early near disco beats, and remember back in the day you’d be as likely to hear Blue Oyster Cult at a club as you would be to hear Boney M, as well as Rick Wakemanesque keyboard wizardry such as is on ‘Enda Sunda Människan i Världen’, a track that could have had the vocals removed and would sit happily as an instrumental.
There is a fair old mix of sounds here, with more than enough to please grey haired Prog-heads who long for the days of Camel and youngsters who just want to ironically dig some retro vibes alike. For me, it did feel like I’d fallen back some forty plus years in time, and was back into an era of the three day week, smoking for adults seemed to be mandatory, and when vinyl was not a hip and trendy throwback, it was simply what there was.