Review Summary: In context, "Sunrise" is an excellent depiction of the very film it represents, but otherwise is ultimately lacking in a final powerful blow.
My Education’s “Sunrise” is intended to be a soundtrack to the 1927 silent film Sunrise: A Song of Two Humans
, which deals with love and the disparity between the urban and rural world. The film reveals that a farmer had been having an affair with a woman from the city, and this woman proclaims that he drown his wife in order to ensure their happiness. The husband takes his wife out on a boat ride, only failing to take action on the task at hand. When the wife discovers what her husband was attempting to do, she runs off to the city. The man is forced to win her back and succeeds in doing so, but only to have her thrown overboard in a storm on the journey home. The now anguished man feels as though he has lost his wife forever, and this drives him into a homicidal rage. The man chokes the woman from the city as if she is to blame, but finally news reaches him that his wife has been found. Making a 180 degree turn of emotion, he is found clinging to his wife as the woman from the city is taken away.
My Education accentuates the story with tremendous precision; giving indication of the twists and moments of utter suspense. The record demonstrates sections of sheer beauty and instances of ominous mystery, constantly tense and foreboding. “Sunrise” is a slow burning collection of songs that appears to have a cohesive direction and purpose. The music relies heavily on acoustic guitars and a steady rhythm section to provide a solid foundation, but the character of the record seems to be facilitated by the strings and occasional electric leads. Both a viola and a cello are present throughout the album, and are both beautiful and mystifying at the same time. The strings are what set the tone for “Sunrise,” for they seem to give off a vibe of peace and serenity even in the darkest of situations. It is with City Woman
that we realize something has gone amiss; the man is battling the love for his wife with his lust for the newly acquainted city woman. The music indicates an inclination towards evil, almost as if the “city” is what is corrupting a hard-working family man. The strings here are much less charming and ominous, accompanied by a rare appearance of electric guitars.
“Sunrise” seems to almost lose you at Oars
, which doesn’t appear to have any direction until the bass and drums pick up around the two and a half minute mark. Oars
could potentially be the record’s most significant track in that this is scene in the film that the man attempts to drown his wife, causing her to escape to the city. This piece is the most musically diverse on the record, transforming from a sluggish bass-driven introduction to a thundering climax. The heavily distorted electric guitar wails, propelling the album to its most lively moment. Whatever momentum that was created by Oars
is completely destroyed by A Man Alone
, which is menacing, but repetitive. In six minutes the track doesn’t appear to go anywhere; losing the dramatic and powerful effect it could have had. Not unlike the film, the record seems to fall perfectly into place in its final moments, with Sunrise
recalling the peace and serenity of the opener. The strings create a similar mood to Sunset
, as if to say that nothing severe has happened. Sunrise
is the sigh of relief and joy that the man feels with the return of his wife, knowing that after all that had happened, his life was still very much intact.
Out of context, My Education’s “Sunrise” does not seem to have the same effect, ultimately lacking in a powerful conclusion. Without consideration of the film that the record was constructed for, the music engages the listener with its tension, and builds to a point in which you expect the closing fireworks; but they never occur. As a soundtrack, “Sunrise” appears to be a cohesive and meticulous depiction of the film, giving the listener a sense of the hostility in the story, even if he/she has never seen the movie before. My Education’s 2010 won’t be considered ground-breaking or even up to par with the work of contemporaries Godspeed You! Black Emperor or Mono, but is intriguing on its own.