Too Close To The Sun has something which belongs to a movie like Into the Wild or Captain Fantastic. The general tone and the choice of instruments class the band in a genre between folk and country music. The band produces a sound that is raw and natural, without obvious electronic arrangements – for fans of music that is “pure” and naked, Too Close To The Sun is a must-hear EP. It is made of five very different tracks yet the beauty is that No Oil Paintings manage to piece them together as a whole beautifully.
‘God Only Knows’ begins with a “We Will Rock You” sort of clapping and a solo guitar. The hoarse voice of Chris Kelly carrying the ballad as well as the lyrics (“God only knows where I’ll go”) add a vintage western vibe to the piece. It is a song that one can easily imagine being sung around a fire during a camping trip. ‘Cut Me truly belongs to ‘Into the Wild’, as the music goes on, a wind-like sound comes along, carrying with it the impression of being on an epic journey. vocalist Sean Doone doesn’t shout, he doesn’t roar, it is a piece made of quiet singing and powerful background vocal which bring a perfect balance.
The tone of voice used by the lead vocal in ‘All Our Woes’ is very similar to Ville Valo in his solo work. With yet again a very powerful vocal background chanting along, and a predominant 5-string banjo, the song is melancholic and pleasant to the ear. I was lucky enough to hear the band singing Icarus live in Radio Foyle with Mark Patterson early June this year, and it is a great surprise to note that the live version and the studio recording are absolutely similar. The sound produced by the band doesn’t need to be arranged or improved because of how bare it is in its nature.
‘Icarus’ displays a perfect harmony between lead and background vocals. It is folky, with a catchy tune constantly returning (“Is it better to burn out than to fade away?”). It can also be considered as the eponymous piece as the song carries the title of the EP – “That’s what happens when you fly too close to the Sun.” Finally, ‘Different Lights’ brings a quiet end to the EP. It begins with a string tune similar to something by Radiohead – the first notes of No Surprises or Creep perhaps. The chanting in the background smoothly accompanies a lead voice made deeper and richer for this final tune. It is a feel-good music and it is soothing.
Too Close to the Sun is a must-hear EP for anyone attracted to folk music, vocal harmony and a really bare sound. No Oil Paintings proved their ability to use all of their resources (clapping, chanting, aligning voices) to produce quality music that would fit perfectly in festivals.