[sic] Magazine

Catatonic Suns – S/T

We’re in the middle of another grunge revival and this time, more than ever before, the term is being abused, applied to all sorts of vaguely heavy rock music. Allentown, PA three-piece Catatonic Suns are many things but grunge isn’t one of them. They lack the raw production and harsh guitars; they’re too keen on psychedelia and other period sounds, and – frankly – they’re often just too cute. How so? Well, this self-titled sophomore release is just eight tracks long and, effective as much of it is, only one track hits the four-minute mark, a couple even coming in sub three-minutes.

Why does this matter? Take “Slack”. Quick on the pedals and tremolo, it’s fuzzy alt-rock with a vaguely Eastern psych bent. It’s decent, capable and moreish and yet it sounds exactly like an alt-rock band dabbling in psych rather than the product of some committed kosmonauts, its cookie-cutter run-time prohibiting any serious effort to lock in and zone out. Contrast with the heavy yet soft “Be As One”, its swirl of suffocating guitar and drums initially seeming kinda throwaway, but embracing its brevity paints the track in a different light. A popular (but not “pop”) take on rock, suffocating shoegaze and psych tumbled together in under three minutes: in a different age it could have been quite the hit.

At eight minutes, album closer “No Stranger” gives Catatonic Suns the space to luxuriate in their creation, Patrick Shields’ serrated vocal doing the damager over stoner doom-drops and throbbing, wall-of-sound psych-rock guitar. It nor the album never really climaxes though, never really reveals its true identity. This is an impressive introduction nevertheless after last year’s self-released, under-the-radar debut, but as an album it leaves you wondering who the real Catatonic Suns are.

Best track: “Be As One”

~Catatonic Suns is released October 6th 2023 via Agitated Records.~