Reviewed – Children Of The State – Big Sur

Release Date – 10/4/20

Rating – 4/5

Doncaster and Bolsover boys, Children of the State release their latest single ‘Big Sur’, a mellow blend of surf rock and doo-wop delivered in a brit-pop package. It’s a landscape of clean, shimmering guitars, twangy walking bass, and soft melodies. The track was produced by Ian Skelly, drummer of Merseyside group and folk-rock indie group The Coral; and the influence is clear.

The inspiration for the track that John McCullagh sings so dreamily about, is Big Sur, a stretch of Californian coastal beauty, a million miles from the dreary grey of Doncaster’s industrial estates. There’s a strong yearning delivered through the doo-wop vocal melody, you get the sense that the band could be pining for their sweetheart at a 50s high school dance; yet instead, the longing is for a change of scenery and even a sense of freedom.

The track was recorded at Parr Street Studios, Liverpool; presumably the closest seaside approximation we could hope for on this side of the pond because the band wanted to take inspiration from coastal surroundings. It comes through in the track, you can imagine the guys penning lyrics relating to the sun-kissed Pacific whilst staring drearily out of the window at what I can only assume would be, by comparison, a relatively grey affair. This mirrors the themes expressed in the song and adds a kind of bittersweet appreciation.

The chorus is very well executed, the distorted organ swells in the background and the vocal melody is allowed to take center stage, evoking memories of the Kooks’ ‘Jackie Big Tits’. Similarly, the South Yorkshire twang is ever-present putting you in mind of Alex Turner’s (Arctic Monkeys) sneering delivery; without wanting to start a Sheffield/ Doncaster turf-war this is honestly said in good faith, I’m sure the lads wouldn’t mind the comparison.

Things get dirty on the solo and the fuzz pedal induced psychedelia begins adding a nice edge to the slushier doo-wop sound; it’s an understated lesson in brit-pop simplicity doing enough to contrast the cleaner parts of the track whilst not losing the overall vibe and theme of the track.

‘Big Sur’ releases on April 10th, and you can catch the group on tour later in the summer around Doncaster and Sheffield.

Review by Theo Wildgoose

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