See The Sun
To paraphrase lead singer Paul Durham, Black Lab got out of the music business in order to concentrate on the business of making music. And just one listen to the band’s sophomore album, See The Sun, proves that was a wise decision.
Eight years have passed since the band's debut album, Your Body Above Me, was released to great acclaim –- the San Francisco Chronicle labeled them “the American U2" -– and releasing See The Sun has not been an easy process. After intense legal negotiations, Black Lab managed to get the master recordings from their former label, and given the quality of the material, it’s easy to see why the band fought so hard to independently release these songs.
From the astonishing pop brilliance of the opening title track right up to the majestic beauty of album closer “Circus Lights,” it’s clear that the time between albums has allowed Durham to refine the band’s sound. On tracks like “Remember” and “Ecstasy,” the U2 influence is more pronounced than ever. But overall, the dark, brooding nature of the band’s earlier material seems to have been replaced by a more straight ahead pop-rock sound. “Dream In Color” is a perfect example of this change: an irresistible melody combines with Durham’s pleading, strangely hypnotic vocals to create a pop masterpiece, which along with the punchy rock of “Without You” lays a claim to be the album’s highlight among some very tough competition.
Quite simply, See The Sun is one of the best rock albums –-independent or otherwise -– of 2005, and it’s to be hoped that Black Lab achieve success their own way and on their own terms after their harsh treatment at the hands of certain know-nothing major label executives.