MIST AND MYTH: I’m a sucker for wordplay. And when your band is called Soars, a homophone to the word “sores” — then my interest is piqued. But it’s not just an exercise in badinage. Like the duality of their name, Soars’ music reaches high by looking low. Their song “The Sun Breaks Every Way But One” is heavenly in its bleeding blue mood. There are slow, winding guitar melodies fringed with sonic textures, and indecipherable vocals, which seem to be aimed more at creating atmosphere than actually being understood. The lead single “Throw Yourself Apart”, opens with a fading sound, like some passing apparition. Then the drums kick in, followed by guitar and a reverb-drenched voice, barely above a whisper. This style featuring muffled vocals and dreamy soundscapes is becoming more prevalent in experimental music, from artists like the soul-based How to Dress Well, WU LYF, and the more upbeat Port City.
It may seem all too lo-fi for some listeners, but there’s real skill in the production value. Soars’ music is a dark layering of fog upon fog and veneer upon veneer. It’s a veiled wonder that gives the music an air of mystery, making it easy to fall into its complexities, sorrows, romances, glowing warmth and cool departures. “Throw Yourself Apart” does just as the song title implies. By the time the song nears its end, the multi-layered arrangements begin to come to a point, pursuing a dark line of reverb guitar, as if following a stranger into a creepy Venetian alleyway. The band dismantles the track, instruments falling away into a skitter and scrape of sharp random noises. It’s quite beautiful.
There’s something to be said about obscured composition. I’ve fallen in love with it. Soars’ haunting ornamentation builds a natural tension in the music. It’s also edged with a deep vulnerability, entrancing in its anesthetization. For some listeners, a song like “Escape On High” may sound plodding. But really it unfolds itself, revealing a cosmos of small beauties like a million tiny sensations, each flickering briefly until the next. The song’s one foundation is a slow industrial marching drum. It thumps its way toward a dark inevitability, as distorted guitar and vocals are further shrouded in an echoed reverb, leading listeners into a languorous decay like rust. It’s frightening, and exhilarating.
As good as the beginning of this record is, the latter tracks might be even more impressive. “Figurehead” is an incredible piece of art, with its in-the-red processed drum loops, shadowy ambiance and a spellbinding distortion. The guitars are Bauhaus-dark, resounding like they’re being played in a cavern. Just as the noisier elements began to get bigger and louder, so do the more melodic moments, like the swooning eloquence of a beckoning vocal. “Young Adult” is a dreamy bewitchment, mixing new-wave guitar repetitions, dark Gothic undertones, dub, and electronica — topping it all off with synth strings. There aren’t many bands that sound like this, or can sound like this. Soars’ debut is one of the best records I’ve heard this year. Note: The band consists of Briana Edwards, David Kresge, Anthony Perrett and Chris Giordani. This Eastern Pennsylvania quartet will be releasing “Soars” on October 5, 2010 via La Societe Expeditionnaire. — David D. Robbins Jr.