40 Watt Sun hold a special place in the hearts of those who have heard their music and been affected by the honesty within. 2011s The Inside Room was a stunning debut that still garners regular plays from this writer and Wider than the Sky will do the same in the years to come. Having been many years in the making, Wider than the Sky comprises of six beautiful songs that speak to the very essence of humanity and delves below the surface of relationships and sadness and loss. Despite the long gestation period for this album, the songs have been played live in various incarnations in the intervening years and for some, these songs will be familiar - yet none of them lose their emotional resonance because of this.
Frontman Patrick Walker is notoriously private, and in an interview we’ve conducted with him in the past, he was reluctant to really talk about his songs and their deeper meanings. He’d rather allow the music to speak for itself and in Wider than the Sky we are invited to listen to the stark realities of life. “Stages” doesn’t ease us in easily, with its sixteen minutes spread over gorgeous guitar tones that while simple, are sorrowful in their progressions. Christian Leitch’s drum work is dynamic and while it’s not all hard hitting, it drives the song ever onwards and into realms of brightness in the closing moments. Walker’s voice is nuanced, recognisable and his vocal patterns are rich and deliberate in their execution with little moments heard on record that always come across in a live environment. The enunciated “T,” or a short inhale of breath before moving on to the next line. It’s in these moments that 40 Watt Sun find their honesty, there’s nothing hidden here and the sadness that prevails is one that everyone will feel keenly.
“Beyond You” showcases the band’s song writing capabilities with shimmering guitars and morose inflections that build to a gorgeous moment of swelling voice and music that allow the guitar to echo out in blissful, bittersweet tones before dropping back into acoustic lines that progress with light, soft strums. The words are heavy, but they are cut through with such delicate attention and they truly speak to you. There’s nothing here that feels forced or untrue and it’s this ability to burrow under the skin that gives this trio their power.
The weight of Wider than the Sky is executed in a different way than it would have been in Walker’s previous band, Warning. Where the electric buzz of the guitar or the crunchiness of the bass would have created the atmosphere for the seminal doom band, 40 Watt Sun use words and experience to create an aura of loss, yet, there’s pale hope etched across the songs on this record. It’s true that the words echo with melancholy, but the beats in “Another Room” hold a little brightness and while the resonant guitars in “Pictures” spin walls of sentiment, Walker’s voice is lifted from its previous lows to allow subtle moments of optimism to filter through.
Wider than the Sky is a record that will stay with you long after the closing chords of “Marazion” ring out. It’s an affecting listen and one that can appeal to fans of doom and “singer/songwriter” types alike. It’s a much sparser, stripped back affair compared to The Inside Room, but 40 Watt Sun lose none of their command. Instead, Patrick’s voice is pushed to the forefront and his scars are bared for all to hear and to experience. It’s a record that will speak to anyone who has suffered heartbreak and while you may finish the album in tears, it’s a necessary catharsis. Wider than the Sky is a beautiful presentation of honesty, dreams, sadness and passion, and 40 Watt Sun are a band to be engulfed by.
9.0 / 10
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