The Sound was one of those shoulda-been-bigger-then-they-were bands. Coming from the same part of the musical spectrum as Echo & The Bunnymen, The Comsat Angels, Magazine and Joy Division, The Sound sounded a little bit like each of those bands. Their melodies were hook-laden; their lyrics were literate. Why they never reached the same sized audience as their contemporaries remains a mystery.
Adrian Borland formed The Sound around 1980. He and his bandmates (Graham Bailey, Mike Dudley, and Bi Marshall) were all refugees from an earlier group, The Outsiders. The Sound's early albums, Jeopardy (1980) and From The Lion's Mouth (1981), received little notice despite solid songs. In hindsight, they stand as lost classics. The lack of success at the time, though, rankled The Sound's record label, who demanded a more "commercial" album. Borland believed the reason for poor sales was the label's lack of support and promotion, not the band's material, and responded with 1982's All Fall Down, a decidedly uncommercial affair that satisfied the band's three-album contract if not the label's wishes.
By 1984, The Sound had found a new home on the independent Statik label and rebooted their career with an excellent six-song EP, Shock Of Daylight. It was this record that contained the incredible "Golden Soldiers," an insistent, irresistible steamroller of a song that seemed like it might finally be the break The Sound needed. The band's luck faltered again, however, when Statik collapsed in bankruptcy shortly after the release of the follow-up album, Heads And Hearts. Again adrift with no label and no promotion behind them, The Sound faded quickly back into obscurity. Borland himself had begun fighting a steadily worsening depression.
The Sound tried once more, in 1987, with the independently released Thunder Up. When that album, too, failed to capture much attention, The Sound split apart. While his bandmates wandered out of the music business in the ensuing years, Borland continued to record. Over the next ten years he released several solo recordings. Sadly, his depression worsened over time. Unable to find happiness, Adrian Borland took his own life in 1999.
The Sound's tale is a sad one to be sure. But for a bit of luck here or there along the way, their name might be right alongside their better-known contemporaries in New Wave history. This week's NW4NW remembers The Sound through two clips: first up, a televised performance of "Sense Of Purpose," an early track from the excellent From The Lion's Mouth album; then, an audio-only of their crowning achievement, "Golden Soldiers." Enjoy!