In a vacuum, the sunset is a medley of the warmest shades of red and orange immersing the entire sky, a sight that’s globally gazed upon with utmost reverence, held as a standard for that which is naturally and superlatively beautiful. As a daily recurrence, though, it is also the soft fabric that bridges the space separating day and night when they’re at an impasse, the motley in-between of binary oppositions. That’s the crux of We Could Leave Tonight; it too, in a vacuum, is a veritable array of colours and textures, dense enough to hold its own sentimental cargo – but on a larger scale it braids together the yin and yang of love-sickness and heartbreak and toes the resultant fragile line.
Kindling the sky’s fire is a constant, renewable stream of shoegaze denizens. The staunch guitars, fuzzier than the underside of the sofa, sound as though they’re being eked out of a pressurised, airtight container, and David Challinor’s plush vocals buff the gravelled edges. This set-up is the foundation from which all of Sunsets’ songs arise, and it’s easy to see why – they are a physical presence that embellishes these tracks, a vivid gouache-paint portrait in a gallery of pencil sketches and Pollock-bollocks. ‘Open Up My Eyes’ alone uses distortion not as padding but as something remedial, intelligently designed to tap into our nostalgia neurones, each drum fill and errant cymbal smash a skipped heartbeat for a resurgent memory formerly forgotten.
Challinor aerates that he’s “speaking for a generation that can’t make up its mind”, and all of the scattered ifs and coulds support that. There’s uncertainty and hypothetical around every corner, whether for psyching up (“I wake up feeling every morning this could be the one”) or stemming expectation (“You could go out on your own if you could find your way back home”). A lot of the visited scenarios, including the album’s title, are outcomes that haven’t happened, and it’s telling of the sort of mind-dweller that replays conversations internally and thinks up the perfect response to a jab only four hours too late. On ‘Maybe Eye‘, he laments that “I was hoping you could put it into words”, a trait that could help to explain the nine year album gap between this and 2005’s Invisible. Briefly afterwards, a spindly guitar solo speaks for him.
Sounds Like Sunset have imparted reassurance for the stragglers straddling the grey area. They themselves are seated somewhere in-between the soft-spoken sway of Yo La Tengo and the transformative furnace of The Rational Academy. They’re plying their trade for something in-between their own sake and ours, seeking some nameless state in-between clarity and doubt – a vessel to ferry the ambivalent from one emotional condition to its reverse.