Local Music Reviews
Who Affects The Sun
Herring = The Smiths x Greet Death
It’s the time of year to walk laps around Liberty Park and kick leaves during solitary twilight hours. For this particular activity, headphones and an alt-rock soundtrack are necessities. If you are like me and crave post-punk-adjacent instrumentals and headphone-enabled dissociation in the fall, you might consider adding Herring’s Who Affects The Sun into your leaf-crunching, moon-gazing, hot, black coffee-drinking music rotation.
The second album from the five-piece band features eight tracks that give off an undeniably British rock flair à la Morrissey (thanks to lead singer Devin Richie’s syrupy, gloomy vocal tone), and a more melodic version of IDLES when Emma Roberts and Nate Richie’s overdriven guitars are properly indulged. The latter comparison is particularly felt on the closing track, “Silhouette,” through Caine Wenner’s punchy drums and Richie’s occasional sing-shout. “CIGARETTES! / And sanitizer for sale,” he croons. “I scream into nothing / Try harder, try harder.”
This is a natural progression from the brighter, shoegaze-leaning sound of Herring’s self-titled debut album, which was released in 2019 and contained only hints of moodiness. Who Affects The Sun delves deeper, leaning into edgy complexity with the addition of two new guitarists and Lexie Wilson on bass.
The energy of the album builds gradually. On “Ruin” and the other first few songs, guitar arpeggios are playful. Richie’s vocals lean angelic and detached. “The sky is coming down / So we write our names to the underground,” he sings on “Blush.” From there, each track marks a slow but deliberate mark toward that underground, properly ushered in by bass-driven and minor-keyed melodies like in “Who Affects the Sunset.”
Herring really digs its nails in on the final two tracks. Guitar riffs hang heavy and cymbals crash. Richie spits breathy verses like an alleyway beat poet, at times following a rhythm all his own. “I can’t see the sun / I can’t drive the ash from my lungs / And I wake up and whisper / The same old song,” he sings on “Song 8” (which is, ironically, track seven). Then, on “Silhouette,” he asks, “What goes on all day? / Letting blood cool on the seat … The cars go everywhere / The people, they go nowhere.”
Are the album’s many references to sunrises, sunsets and banal timekeeping a commentary on working for The Man? Or perhaps it’s a meditation on the inevitability of autumn’s brown, deathly chill? Regardless of the sentiment, Who Affects The Sun provides even more auditory pleasure than a leaf crunching underfoot. –Mekenna Malan