Sun’s Signature: Sun’s Signature Album Review

Fraser is in predictably fine form. Her voice has matured considerably from the slightly jagged tones of her Cocteau Twins debut, when the band sailed close to punk rock and goth; here, she lands on a tone that is higher, fuller, and more recognizably human in register. Her lyrics, often indecipherable at the Cocteau Twins’ peak, are recognizable and even relatable on Sun’s Signature, speaking of love, nature, and the passing of the seasons. To write the lyrics, Fraser made collages of words borrowed from various literary sources, which might explain esoteric phrases like “Sing-ho, Oriole/Tretemolo, Empemblon/Skyliblong” (from “Apples”). But other lines—“Summer is gone/The autumn of my life”; “Daughter, I kiss you/Always hold you”; “See him rise and make lovely the day”—suggest profound and poetic universal truths. This combination of personable voice, discernible lyrics, and grown-up themes suffuses the EP in a warm maturity that Cocteau Twins fans will recognize from the band’s penultimate album, Four-Calendar Café, although Sun’s Signature take a more adventurous approach than Cocteau Twins did on their excellent, if rather meat-and-potatoes, major-label debut.

The crowning glory of Sun’s Signature is the songwriting, a skill that was often eclipsed by Cocteau Twins’ impeccable sonics. The vocal melodies of “Golden Air” and “Apples,” in particular, tumble with acrobatic grace, while the duo’s off-center arrangements explore unpredictable peaks and troughs. When the two combine, as on the rapturous climax of “Golden Air,” the result is ecstatic.

Comparisons to the Cocteau Twins are inevitable. But whereas Fraser’s iconic group brought an otherworldly, almost incomprehensible beauty to much of their music, Sun’s Signature’s charm is surprisingly empathetic. It feels hospitable and lived in, binding earthly emotion with musical grace. That’s not to say the album is humdrum or common: Fraser’s voice remains an extraordinary instrument, while the production is impressively diverse. But this is the mortal magic of a smile as opposed to the astral wonder of the stars: Sun’s Signature is among Fraser’s most illuminating and eloquent music to date, the work of a flesh-and-blood person rather than the chimerical Cocteau Twin of myth.

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Sun’s Signature: Sun’s Signature EP

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