So So Modern: Friendly Fires
That pretty much sums it up. That’s all you need to know. Just put down the magazine and go get your hands on this thing. It’s good.
Friendly Fires, the much-anticipated EP from Wellington’s favourite bloopy-bleepy dance-punk merchants, is seven tracks of pure yay. From the appropriately named opening track ‘Synthgasm,’ with its tasty layers of keyboard noise backed by a stomping hi-hat orientated drum strut, through to the fantastic vocoder-cowbell jam of the final track ‘The Love Code,’ this EP is utterly delightful.
Until hearing this, I’d been of the opinion that a lot of the appeal of So So Modern is in the sheer spectacle of their performance. Having seen them dangling from the rafters and dismembering giant neon cardboard robots filled with baked goods, their recorded material seemed to come off rather flat, not really living up to the unrelenting flair and energy these guys deliver in their live performances. Luckily for us, this is not so with Friendly Fires.
All of these seven tracks are totally expressive of the live So So experience. Tracks like ‘Skeleton Dance’ directly evoke the sweet, sweet image of a sweaty, neon-clad San Fran audience, ecstatically applauding the four jump-suited figures onstage. It’s all here; the thick, synth-drenched melodies, spare, angular guitar hooks, tense vocal deliveries and taut, driving drum rhythms. All of the guys get a decent amount of time in front of the mic too, which makes for an interesting listen.
There’s a bit of variety, too. ‘Keychain Dolphins’ is a dark, brooding wee number, which contrasts with the lively sense of humour present in a track like ‘Fire Fights.’ Honestly, there are a few bars about 1 minute 51 into the song that sound like a piss-take of the Starsky & Hutch theme music. Imagine Huggy Bear strutting down an L.A. street packing a couple of moogs, you get the idea.
Friendly Fires is a fantastic EP. Moreover, it’s a vital document of modern music, showcasing a restlessly creative band willing to weave different elements of various genres and styles into a concise, compelling whole. Yay!!