The Quietus - A new rock music and pop culture website

Reviews

Soar
Dark/Gold Veronica Irwin , September 7th, 2017 12:44

Members of Joyride, Watercolor Paintings, Void Boys and Dreamspoiler make beautiful music together.

Members of Joyride, Watercolor Paintings, Void Boys and Dreamspoiler come together to make Bay Area band SOAR. When they opened for Girlpool at the Chapel in San Francisco in May of this year, they grabbed so much attention that any band other than perpetually good-natured Girlpool might have been intimidated to follow them. Their blazing stage presence had the audience dancing eagerly to a flurry of guitar-driven tracks they barely knew. In a scene of angsty teen bands and lyrical nostalgia, SOAR stands out as a little more mature, a little less careless and a lot more deliberate with their new album Dark/Gold.

Dark/Gold has more polish than their previous release - last year's cassette-only Wilt; it's fluidly constructed, with songs that feel more planned than its off-the-cusp predecessor. The album’s moody nostalgia isn't unique among its peers, but the pointed self-reflection might be, along with the sharp contrast between harmonised group vocals and its particularly individualistic content. Devoid of raw anger, SOAR transform a kind of riot grrrl forthrightness into retrospective observation. For a band that arose through a serendipitous chain of Facebook comments and messages, rather than naturally occurring friendships, their writing gels effortlessly.

Musically, the album makes use of heavier distortion and more polished production than most bands in this scene. The guitar especially echoes the 90s grunge of Nirvana or Pearl Jam - gritty but also somehow refreshing. The basslines are heavy and minor-tinged, especially on the second half of the album, on ‘Domino’ and ‘Keeping a Record’, adding to the inordinately heavy feel. Without the angry subject matter SOAR still maintain a layer of punky grit, fitting into the ironic and sarcastic genre of folk-punk without being quite so heavy-handed.

Compositionally the album falls a little short, at times feeling repetitive or uncreative. Overall the album makes SOAR a band to watch - as a gang of already-successful artists, their earnest collaboration rings clear: their visions work synchronistically, allowing their individual stories to intertwine with inordinate grace.

If you love our features, news and reviews, please support what we do with a one-off or regular donation. Year-on-year, our corporate advertising is down by around 90% - a figure that threatens to sink The Quietus. Hit this link to find out more and keep on Black Sky Thinking.