The Sound: Box Set 1: 1980-1983 / Box Set 2: 1984-1987

A chance to reappraise the ultimate unlucky underdogs.

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It’s become almost an orthodoxy to cite The Sound as the most underrated and perhaps greatest post-punk quartet of the 80s. Yet it never seems to boost their profile, even when twists in fashion mean half the hipster bands of the day resemble diluted versions of them.

Perhaps this welcome, worthwhile career-compilation will nudge a few from the churches of Joy Division, The Cure and The Bunnymen towards the South London outsiders’ stealthy shadows.

Their story ended a sad one, as frustration and depression contributed to the death of singer-songwriter-guitarist Adrian Borland in 1999. By then he’d established a solo career, but The Sound had left a legacy of burning beauty and bile.

The first box here gathers Jeopardy, From The Lion’s Mouth and All Fall Down, their scorching, peerless opening trinity for Korova/Warners, as well as a BBC live set and bonus EPs. The second traces their defiant phase, as Shock Of Daylight, Heads And Hearts and Thunder Up reaffirmed their power and poise. Propaganda, the pre-Korova ‘demos’ rarity, is also included.

And while those albums all walk a perfect line between restraint and explosion, from the rage of Missiles to the romance of Monument, it might be the live (from the Marquee) double, In The Hothouse, which best exemplifies their simultaneous grandeur and grit.

You can still feel the conviction coming off it, as band and audience merge in the belief that this music moves mountains and these words will change things. Borland is in his element, winning./o:p

Chris Roberts

Chris Roberts has written about music, films, and art for innumerable outlets. His new book The Velvet Underground is out April 4. He has also published books on Lou Reed, Elton John, the Gothic arts, Talk Talk, Kate Moss, Scarlett Johansson, Abba, Tom Jones and others. Among his interviewees over the years have been David Bowie, Iggy Pop, Patti Smith, Debbie Harry, Bryan Ferry, Al Green, Tom Waits & Lou Reed. Born in North Wales, he lives in London.