October 13, 2010

Review: Soars | Self-titled [MP3]

Something that may be more surprising than how many excellent records from up-and-comers have hit racks in 2010 is how many excellent shoegaze and dreampop records have been released during the same period of time (Tears Run Rings, The Hush Now, Wild Nothing, that new Yuck jam, and on and on and on). And even more surprising than that is the variety of solutions we're hearing to the shoegaze equation. Time was the Choc/Van/Straw of shoegaze influences (that is, My Bloody Valentine/Slowdive/Ride) were so pervasive that the output of those acts' musical disciples did not stray far from familiar stylistic medians. Fewer still saw fit to map new territories in shoegaze. Which is all the more reason why Soars' self-titled debut, released tomorrow on La Société Expéditionnaire, is so thrilling.

The Lehigh Valley, PA-based quartet (augmented by two samplers) incorporates into its eight-song debut the breathy ambience of Cocteau Twins and, occasionally, the aggressively stunned energy of hugely under-rated Slumberland act Whorl. Canned percussion, Brianna Edwards' vocals drowning in reverb, and echoey guitars are certainly nothing new, but Soars sets itself apart by tinting its music with gothic overtones -- we're thinking specifically here of the trudging chant "Escape On High" that anchors the center of the record -- which we expect only remain in fashion with committed goth or darkwave aficionadoes. It's not quite the sound of depthless (albeit devotedly melodic) dread, but it ain't exactly "Shiny Happy People" either. The juxtaposition of the emotive singing and melodies against fairly minimal programmed beats in the standout song "The Sun Breaks Every Way But One" communicates a feeling of spiritual drift. The verse of the wonderfully narcotic "Ditches" channels Joy Division's towering "Transmission," but Soars lives up to its name with its songs surging, hazy chorus. In all, the foursome's debut is a beautiful, formidable statement of purpose.

Soars has several appearances booked over the next month, including two appearances at the annual CMJ music confabulation in New York; full dates are posted below. While Soars was issued domestically earlier this month, the record will not see release in the U.K. and Europe until December.

Soars - Throw Yourself Apart

Soars - Figurehead
[Buy Soars from La Société Expéditionnaire right here]

10.22 -- Bar Matchless (CMJ) -- Brooklyn, NY
10.23 -- Cake Shop (CMJ) -- New York, NY
11.03 -- Garfield Artworks -- Pittsburgh, PA
11.27 -- Johnny Brenda's -- Philadelphia, PA

Soars: Internerds | MySpace | YouTube | Flickr

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