So So Modern – Crude Futures

Release Date 15/02/2010
By Joss Worthington

So So Modern - Crude Futures (2010)

Having gained notoriety in Europe over recent years for their energetic and experimental live shows, Crude Futures demonstrates So So Modern’s first attempts to capture their heady brew of sonic chaos in LP format. With a name like So So Modern the prospective listener might initially be fooled into some sense of what to expect from the eclectic New Zealand 4 piece and they definitely don’t disappoint in one respect. Yes they are certainly very modern sounding indeed, whatever that means?

I’d say in the So So Modern case it means an explosive sonic collision of musical styles and elements that in theory shouldn’t work together.

Opening Instrumental track Life in the Undergrowth sounds like Slint joining forces with Kraftwork, and just as you’re lulled into the sense that it might be a post rock band that you’re listening to The Worst is yet to Come jumps into life with techno bleeps and shouty punk rock vocals. The first 2 songs could be played by 2 different bands altogether, and that is not necessarily a bad thing. Variety is the spice of life after all, but it definitely takes some getting used to.

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Dendrons and Be Anywhere takes us back to more standard alt rock territory, the former echoing a more youthful Les Savy Fav whilst the latter stands out as possibly the bands best attempt for cross over to commercial success. The closing vocal mantra of, ‘There lies the beach beneath the paving stones’, not only demonstrates a clever nod to the French Situationists, but So So Modern’s ability to write a memorable melody when necessary.

Berlin takes us instrumentally back into a similar head space as the opening track. An ominous and driving drumbeat underpins a twisting synth melody that would be fun fun fun to listen to on the Autobahn. There is no let up with the sonic twisting and turning as the album progresses into the latter half, and by now I’m starting to feel like it might be time to reach for the half time oranges and give my brain a rest.

There’s a lot to take in all at once, and unlike the sonically skewed landscapes of experimental contemporaries such as Animal Collective and Broken Social Scene, you are still feeling fairly fatigued after numerous listens to Crude Futures. There’s no doubt that So So Modern are definitely an intriguing band. At times they dazzle you with the delights of a young band playing with fire, at other times you get burned.

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