Asian Man Records – Release Date: 9/25/12
Sundials cranks the gain and treads more emotional terrain on its latest album, When I Couldn’t Breathe. Sundials is heavier, more introspective and frankly, a bit sadder this time around. If this album were among the Billboard-ranking, “Completely Broken” would be its single. Singer/guitarist Harris Mendell sings seemingly bittersweet about a breakup, summing up the details in just over two minutes. He doesn’t get too personal but repeats, “I don’t mind, cause I know I’ve gotta be completely broken” for most of the song. It’s as if he’s trying to convince himself of something rather than tell it. “Untitled” is unique for its progression, and for being one of the shortest songs on the album, at 1:31. Musically, it walks a fine line between slight sonic dissonance and melody. An earnest acoustic love song, “Strange,” closes the album. Mendell appeals to a woman despite obstacles within and without. His romantically ideal vision about the two of them falling in love is endearing and willful. “We can fall in love, wouldn’t that be strange?/Let’s talk about the things we’d never change,” Mendell sings. He sings as if he’s talking to her half serious, half speculative. Take ‘90s college rock bands like Chisel, Braid and Harvey Danger, and inject more lovesick, unsettled pop punk angst into them. When I Couldn’t Breathe carries the torch of its genre’s predecessors, is laced with emotion and riddled with introspection, with happiness and contentment just out of reach.
- Jason Duarte