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March 8, 2010 | by  | in Music |
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So So Modern—Crude Futures


Following their less-than-spectacular set at Camp a Low Hum, you’d be forgiven for setting your expectations for So So Modern’s debut album, Crude Futures, a little low. But fret not—in a bizarre turn of events, the recorded So So Modern has managed to outshine the live beast. Despite losing fourth member Aidan Leong late last year, he was still on board to record with the band, and the album is all the better for it: the three-pronged vocal attack has always been one of SSM’s greatest assets, and it shines through on Crude Futures. Lead single ‘The Worst Is Yet To Come’ tears out of album opener ‘Life In The Undergrowth’, the typical SSM synths breakneck battling before the track breaks into wailing harmony (a little grating at times—Grayson, ahem), then held down with the A. Leong’s decidedly less ‘pretty’ refrain. Their propensity towards keeping a tight hold on everything going on in any given bar has never been better, especially given how chaotic certain moments on this album are—it’s Blade Runner on crack at times, before flowing smoothly into Battles territory, particularly on the epic ‘Berlin’ (or, The New New Internationale). It teases, builds, nearly erupts, then disappears over six minutes in. Failed orgasm, but incredible foreplay. A taut and amazing tease.

At the other end of the spectrum, ‘Dendrons’ is a total mathematical assault—completely meticulous and skullcrushingly intense. It, like ‘The Worst Is Yet To Come’, throws itself around on ritalin before a sudden break, only this time for a destructive bassline to take control. Save for ‘Berlin’, it is these full-on art-math-rock-(whatever genre they are) tracks that stand out from the rest across Crude Futures, highlighting their continued development and growth as a band. Other tracks have their moments (the anthemic hooks on ‘Give Everything’, the noodling guitar on ‘Island Hopping / Channel Crossing’), but often the album has a tendency to devolve into self-indulgence—the journey they’ve undertaken on Crude Futures is at times frustrating to listen to, due to the intricate nature of their sound. Bleeping polyrhythms and M.C. Escher arrangements are interesting and engaging, without a doubt, but the album as a whole can be difficult to swallow, particularly for those new to So So Modern. That being said, the songs segue perfectly, has more hits than misses, and most importantly, it’s the So So Modern album. Get your hands on it—there might not be another.

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