Sun Release is a perfect summer album, sonically, visually and thematically. Over the past four months, while we’ve waited for the season to begin, we’ve been warmed by a trio of singles, each stamped by the same bright orange orb. Now the season has begun, and the album is finally ready to drop.
“Splashdown” was the first offering from Heron‘s sophomore album, representing a progression from 2017’s You Are Here Now. On this single, the four-piece Pennsylvania band seems more relaxed, more confident. Their repetitions are measured in such a way as to flow rather than to distract. Some may hear hints of This Will Destroy You in the era of “The Mighty Rio Grande,” but that’s a good thing. All sorts of energy swirls behind that lead guitar, preparing to explode ~ but it never does. This was a great choice for a lead track, producing anticipation without the big reveal.
Next came “The Glow,” another sedate piece that highlights the band’s newfound patience. As a full album, Sun Release ebbs and flows with the peaks and valleys that post-rock fans know and love. This piece in particular proves itself accessible enough to invite vocals (although there are none); one can imagine a wordless chant atop the swells. The build is gentle, yet firm; by the time the drums burst through, one can hear the precision with which the band has crafted their music.
“Light” was featured in our recent article, 10 Tracks That Sound Like Summer, and for good reason. While it’s the third single, it’s the first track on the album, setting up two simultaneous narratives. One is the battle between light and dark, order and chaos in Genesis 1:1-19 (the next track is called “The Void,” two tracks feature the moon, and the title track closes the set). The finale cradles a kind explosion. And there was light.
The second narrative is simpler, and one doesn’t need titles to glean it; one need only drive around in one’s car, windows open (not a hypothetical scenario), on the way to and from the beach. This album performs well on a road trip, from the long and languid “The Void” (which picks up steam at the end, drums rolling to indicate a joyous arrival) to the fitting finale. “Sun Release” (the track) travels from sedate to charged, like the transition from spring to summer. If there’s a fourth single, this should be the one. Either way one interprets the album, light and warmth have won. For the next few months, this gift is ours to enjoy; and Heron has provided a fitting accompaniment. (Richard Allen)