Academy Of The Sun – ‘The Quiet Earth’

❉ An epic post-punk dystopia, not for the faint hearted.

“Like if Werner Herzog made a chamber-prog-punk record under DMT in The Chelsea Hotel,” – frontman Nick Hudson.

Musician, writer and film-maker Nick Hudson has been lauded by the likes of Julian Cope and David Tibet (Coil, Current 93) and can usually be found performing with a shifting band line-up. Mojo magazine has gone as far to say “Nick Hudson… channelling Coil, goes the full Scott Walker”.  You can definitely hear the influences contained within the melodies of this album.

The Quiet Earth draws on Hudson’s film making sensibility by presenting an epic rollercoaster of an album.  Epic in its fifteen-track length, and rollercoaster in nature musically but not lyrically with all tracks alluding to a dystopian theme, in varying musical styles.

The eponymous opening track is reminiscent of an enchanting reel by The Divine Comedy, both lyrically and musically.  The lyrics talk about “as ships fall from the sky” and meld into track two’s Polestar, this time singing about “my Icarus on crack” and later lamenting “you are all I desire from one body” and even later in the song, metaphors-aplenty of dystopian landscapes versus personal relationships akin to broken worlds.

Track three, The House (previously released as a single), shifts its polar-centre musically with a simple acoustic guitar treatment and has the clear influences of Scott Walker with its melancholic, reflective, and seemingly deeply personal lyrics.  It’s one of my favourite tracks on the album.

Moving onto a change in tempo to The Parts That Need Replacing another single release from the album, the tone shifts to a clear sensibility of The Smiths lyrically, meets The Beatles musically.

This treatment continues into the next couple of tracks Kidnapping an Heiress and Charboy in the Cinders, which are surely Smith-worthy titles if ever I heard them!  The former could even be mistaken initially for Morrissey singing the song however it then develops into pure Neil Hannon.  The latter song has Marr-worthy riffs backing a piano melody, again reminding the listener of The Smiths.

Mid-way into the album and lead single, Rose Devoid of Form, continues with the dystopian themes and musically takes on a folk refrain looking at the world from another viewpoint, quietly asking the listener to “think of me kindly for I’ve become the storm”.

Interlude: Happy Nerve Endings presents you with backward played music and wailing lyrics continuing the themes of melancholic bleakness.

Moving into the second part of the album there’s a general shift musically where So What, Carvaggio has a strong Marc and the Mambas-esque intro, developing into a song which wouldn’t sound out of place on an Elvis Costello album.  Don’t Touch the Animals is lyrically repetitive and hence sparse, and by the time we reach Interior Designs we are once more presented with the piano and Spanish electric guitar melodies which are so reminiscent of Marc and the Mambas or Anna Calvi.  Couch Surfer can easily be summed up in the phrase All About Eve Meets Bauhaus, whilst Shy Tourism is a simple piano-led affair.

Track fourteen, shakes the overall feel of the album up and kicks it into touch!  Everything at Once Forever is an energetic, punk-fuelled track which makes me want to see The Academy of Sun play live just for this one track alone!  It’s the B-side of single Rose Devoid of Form an in my humble opinion, the better track.

Finally, we arrive at the ultimate track of The Quiet Earth, the reverently titled Cloud Prayer, which reverts to the generic slower overall pace of the album building to the final crescendo, as last tracks of albums generally do.

With its numerous influences I’d recommend fans of David Tibet, Divine Comedy, Scott Walker, Bauhaus and Marc and the Mambas to give this album a try.  As post-apocalyptic albums go its generally a more melancholic affair without the lyrically depressive bleakness of Numan’s Savage (Songs from a Broken World) or even Depeche Mode’s last album Spirit.

‘The Quiet Earth’ LP was released on CD and digitally, 19 June 2020

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Ange Chan is a regular writer for We Are Cult and has published six volumes of poetry and two novels of contemporary fiction.  She is currently also working on a long-standing project of her third novel Champagne Flutes and Pixie Boots.

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