September 22, 2014
by Bryne Yancey

The term “slacker rock” is a sly pejorative, the connotation being that the band being described doesn’t appear to exert effort, can barely sing or play guitar, or often uses washed out production tactics either to mask a lack of talent or to make it appear they’re untalented as an aesthetic choice. If you or I pretended to be bad at our jobs, we’d probably be fired. The fandom for this type of rock music is nearly universally ephemeral. The musicians often can’t see the forest for the trees; the greatest detail of their music is that there is no detail, and when trying to cultivate an enduring fanbase, details are almost everything.

Richmond, Va.’s Sundials have sometimes been, and always unfairly, pegged as a “slacker rock” band. In this case, it reads like slapdash shorthand for a vaguely punk-influenced brand of crunchy, mid-tempo rock whose details are hard to pin down precisely because of how deceptively nuanced it is. The fact that there’s more than meets the ear, especially on repeat listens, is part of what makes the band so interesting. Make no mistake about it, though: They write great melodies, too.

Sundials’ new EP Kick, out Nov. 4 via Topshelf, seems as though it will add some subtle sheen to the band’s aesthetic if “Stun Spore” (streaming over at Wondering Sound) is any indication. The melodies here, to their great benefit, seem more tightly wound than anything else in the band’s catalogue.