Wednesday, November 12, 2014
Soccer Mom self titled LP on 100m Records
As you get older you begin to realize how easy it is to take a band you really love for granted. It’s not because you appreciate the music more as it ages or that with experience the more discriminating you becomes. It’s instead about respect for a group of individuals that can work together creatively to produce great songs year after year with all the practical concerns of staying together. It starts to feel like a miracle if a band is together longer than one record. The music you love is only a fraction of the experience for the people involved. I don’t presume to know anything about the internal relationships of Soccer Mom, only that since this record was released like many great bands before them they’ve called it quits. They are all extremely talented and will continue on in their own new and solo projects but an important chapter for everyone involved has just ended. Soccer Mom has been distilling their wall of sound, growing closer to an experimental style and working with the overlooked and uglier sides of melody, bending it into a tight pop structure. On this self titled record, they dissolve at their peak of creation.
"It's Probably Not Your Fault" begins with a slow fade into a sonic wall already in progress. It's a subtle introduction to the four piece that’s uncharacteristic for the rest of the album. Dan has a strong sense of melody in his vocal that shifts between a drawn out slightly echo’d lyric and his more conversational, restrained sounding delivery. Like Lee Ranaldo he’s deliberately holding back or not competing with the complex swirl right behind him. Soccer Mom also has a secret weapon in Danielle Deveau on bass who brings that floating higher atmospheric vocal to Dan’s lead. Justin Kehoe on drums is fantastic on this record, taking every opportunity to expand any given phrase and push the percussion density in order to further fill in the empty spaces, not that there’s room left in this solid spray of guitars. The record is a thick, ever shifting sound directly related to this high functioning collaboration especially in the guitars of Dan Parlin and William Scales which is the core of their sound. Their collective layers of distortions and rhythms work towards a nebulous whole that seemingly doesn't ever have an obvious point of entry. It’s a raw indie energy that reminds me of Sebadoh's Harmacy, in places. The bubbling layers and phasing swirls have harsh treble in their reductive guitar rock and English shoegaze, never missing an opportunity to work heavily with a wide range of dynamics.
“Orejas” is one of their glorious piles of sound with a simple back and forth kick and snare intro in deceptively complex stomp beat. Dan and Will then launch this into an incredible epic high that they’re always poised to release; a heavy mix of ungodly countless layers that burst into a full sprint only fall back into the crunchy static of twisted cables. The channel separation on tracks like “Open Heart Surgery” is decisive with completely different guitar parts on either side that you’re asked to unconsciously add up into a whole. An echo from every direction adds up to a huge sense of distance which they need to allow for the maximum number of guitar layers which they labor over every crunchy strum. The brief moments of each particular effect have been carefully chosen and executed. There's a My Bloody Valentine influence in the way the melodies appear unexpectedly out of the fog while remaining a memorable but as much as they may have been influenced by the dense English ‘90s, they keep a tight hold on changes with a post punk focus.
They don’t always have to crush in like a tidal wave and on "No One Left" Dan's vocal is in the next room in an almost whisper,
"Don’t tell anyone..."
Their guitars both excel in melodies that would be impossible to compose except in indecipherable bars and scribbles in that notebook. The guitar tones are a rubbery see saw that’s almost always in danger of toppling over with the clanging of notes beyond the fret board of grabbing that string and pulling, often physically overpowering the instrument. Their long distortions are sustained into eternity, bending and closing back in on the feedback. It's an intuitive process that you can't force and is what makes the loss of this band that much greater.
On Kam Kama’s Shift you overhear phrases and catch pieces of understanding as this drifts by never wanting any more than that. Just like with Soccer mom they ask you to give up a little control and let things unravel on their own, being content in the mystery of instrumentation and interpretation. There's a kind of melancholy to their energy and sound, especially in Danielle’s supporting vocal off in the distance, her piece of that wall left undercovered somewhere in this impenetrable pile. It’s a fuzzy opaque sound, the texture of being buried in an expected direction. They aren’t afraid of interrupting the direction they were headed with the anticlimax of slowing things down only adds to the tension so when they finally rise to those heights again, its earned.
Without dwelling on the sad fact this isn’t going to be witnessed live, which I can assure you they absolutely can recreate every measured pause and oversize layers in perverted volumes, this is a perfect definitive document of Soccer Mom in past tense. A precise, complex complete album that won’t reveal everything in first listen and the satisfaction is in continuing to try.
Soccer Mom can be picked up from 100m Records.