So So Modern – ‘Friends and Fires + 0000EP’s’ – Album Review

As night saturated their hometown of Wellington, New Zealand, a collective known as So So Modern rouse in Camden somewhat purblind and perplexed to the previous night’s events. The courteous hospitality of one flat sharing Londonite led them to the sanctuary of his apartment; serendipity prevailed and began to pave the way of their future.

The humble abode was shared with Transgressive boss Toby, whom, literally, stumbled across them that morning, played host to one of the band’s most electrifying performances in the very same room in which he found them. So So Modern were signed, and their awe-aspiring DIY manifesto towards gigging took them around the world in 2007, performing over 200 shows and supporting the likes of Deerhoof, Dirty Projectors and CSS along with the release of a number of EPs receiving propitious critiques.

‘Friends and Fires + 0000EP’s’ collates the band’s work thus far in a reverse chronology, profiling their evolution of sound and symmetry following their underground successes. Their ability to be experimental and inventive without the usual bombastic attire that such a sound can be distorted and adorned with – often isolating what is created from the listener – is an admirable quality: the filtration of retrograde garage aggression, elemental math rock, no-wave bohemia and new-wave electronica may appear indulgent and aurally opaque, but the lucidity and precision with which it is executed is to be revered.

From the At The Drive-in overture of ‘Skeleton Dances’ and its blistering guitars and fistfuls of punchy vocal shrieks; to the binary bit-rate composition of ‘The Love Code’ and ‘Racer X’; the post-punk feverishness of ‘Loose Threads And Theramins’ akin to the likes of Q And Not U and Punish The Atom; or The Faint-esque ‘Future Cities’ and its Casio renaissance, So So Modern have inherently approached their oeuvre with an expansive palette towards a blip-based sound.

Yet it is their proficient ability to equalise their structures with waves of incongruous synths, lap-tech intelligibility and guitar intricacies that leaves the likes of better-known advocates (Klaxons, Foals, Late Of The Pier) within their genre rather dulcet and synthetic in comparison.

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