«Like Paul Westerberg with an English accent wrestling the ghost of John Lennon».
JAMES SULLIVAN – frontman and guitar player of London’s garage-pop trio MORE KICKS and apocalypse-pop supergroup SUSPECT PARTS has just released his debut solo album LIGHT YEARS. In November 2020, after repeated album delays and touring cancellations due to the pandemic, Sullivan found himself stuck at home writing LIGHT YEARS as a self-imposed distraction. “In that car crash of a year, November seemed to hit particularly hard. I decided to set myself the challenge of writing one song every day for 10 days and then record them all myself in my little analog setup at home in North London,” says Sullivan. “LIGHT YEARS was a move away from writing songs for a live band. Trying out new styles and not thinking about anything for longer than a few minutes. Pure instinct only.”
Accompanying the new album is Sullivan’s video for the single Lea Bridge. The song’s motorik rhythm propels Sullivan’s stream of consciousness vocal style that is reminiscent of Pulp’s Jarvis Cocker. The lyrics describe a journey across London back home from an area called Lea Bridge on a crappy red bike. Sullivan says, “So I took the same crappy red bike, taped my phone to the handlebars and rode that journey again. When I looked at what I’d ‘filmed’, the footage was insanely shaky but weirdly compelling. So, much like the recording process, I made a virtue of its weirdness, messed with it a bit to add some VHS distortion, sped it up and reversed it. It was odd how well it synced up with the song.”
Based in London but from the West Midlands in England, JAMES SULLIVAN started out as guitar player of the Wolverhampton indie pop band RIPCHORD. They signed as teenagers to a major label, toured the world, and were spat out by the industry within a couple of years. James jumped immediately into the world of DIY punk and garage – forming the multi-country supergroup SUSPECT PARTS with members from CLOROX GIRLS, THE BRIEFS and THE SHOCKS. In 2017, after releasing five singles, an LP, and touring Europe extensively, Sullivan decided to step into the role of sole singer and songwriter and formed MORE KICKS. Their debut single It’s A Drag was named Coolest Song in the World by Little Steven’s Underground Garage and they shared stages with the likes of BUZZCOCKS, THE BRIEFS, BABY SHAKES and DICTATORS.
LIGHT YEARS is 12 songs and 32 minutes, a whistle stop tour of blitzed-out fuzz (TOTALLY BORED), paranoid drum machine twitches (GETAWAY), stadium-sized rear mirror reflections (IN THE END) and lo-fi 60s pop nuggets (IT WON’T DO YOU HARM). The record was self-recorded on a half-broken Tascam 8-track. “This record is full of horrendous recording practices. You can hear saturation, tape reels whirling, me pressing stop too early. But none of that stuff sounds out of place. This record is the antithesis of overthinking. Everything is live takes on to tape from start to finish. How could I even overdub any ‘mistakes’? It’s just me in the room and I only have two hands.” LIGHT YEARS a snapshot of an innately melodic writer holding a microphone up to a beating heart and a restless mind. Sullivan’s pop sensibilities will surely win the hearts of fans of artists like GO KART MOZART, GUIDED BY VOICES, PAUL WESTERBERG, and ULTIMATE PAINTING
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