February 15, 2011 - Self-released
Francis Mark, former frontman/drummer of From Autumn To Ashes, hasn't had much longevity with his other projects. His '90s emo worship outlet, Biology, lasted only a solitary full-length; same for Warship and their smoggy throwback to Until Your Heart Stops-era Cave In. Those albums were promising, though, and with The Sun Exploding, the full-length debut from his newest act, Tidal Arms, one has to hope it lasts long enough for Mark & Co. to develop and capitalize on its incredibly promising, ambitious reaches.
Tom Tierney, Mark's old bandmate from Warship, fronts the project, and they're joined by Patrick Southern on bass. Together, they make a trio who produce a deft, slow-roasted take on instrumetal-tinged stoner/alt/space rock with comparisons across the board. The smokey title track has a surprisingly nimble rhythm, like Torche as inspired by ’90s emo, while the shoegazey lumbering on "Past Prosperity" hints at Hum and "Heavy Brainfall" channels Temple Of The Dog through a lower-fidelity, stonier drawl. The jazzy but pensive snarl of late-period Poison The Well infects "Driftwood" and "Hair And Teeth," with both Tom Waits' derelict enunciations and Vheissu-era Thrice grit propelling the bridge of the latter. And then, one is hit with controlled, head-bobbing ohh-oh-ohs right out of the Police's early catalog on "Several Circles." By the time the lower depths of the record's come up, the band are brooding and winding their way through gently pulsing post-metal out of Pelican's playbook ("Swarm In Five").
It sounds a bit all over the place, sure, but Tidal Arms manage to smear their own touch across it all for a wildly experimental and yet reigned-in sound that consistently spits out interesting moments. Now, these moments aren't all necessarily memorable, but they're certainly engaging enough to make The Sun Exploding a cool and worthwhile debut. C'mon, Mark: Don't fear the sophomore slump.