The So So Glos continue their quest for pure punk with new LP ‘Kamikaze’
In 2013, the So So Glos released their energetic, purposely overbearing fourth album ‘Blowout’, which saw them tear down walls of conformity with blazing guitars and Brooklyn-soaked stories of society and discomfort and…social discomfort.
Here we are in 2016; the band are back with new release ‘Kamikaze’, and as the name suggests, they’re continuing to destroy everything in their path with no concern for their own mortality.
The production on the album is right where it should be, the opening track ‘Dancing Industry’ (tongue-in-cheek ‘Dancing in the Street’ reference?) instantly demonstrates this, with studio wizardry creating an enclosed, condensed sound, but then it’s right into the full force of the band’s heavy instrumentation; guitar, bass, drums, grit, determination, piss and vinegar. What a hefty mix!
The songwriting and stylistics on show might be the best they’ve ever been for the So So Glos. They’ve managed to work a more well-rounded album this time around, and while ‘Blowout’ was mighty fine in its own right, as far as keeping the listener hooked goes, ‘Kamikaze’ knocks it out of the park. ‘Sunny Side’ may remind one of ‘All of the Time’ from the previous album, but with an improved, more baroque sound, and it comes across as completely authentic, no gimmicks here. The lyricism here is as good as ever, songs like ‘A.D.D. Life’ and ‘Inpatient’ with its ‘One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest’ references are both real lyrical powerhouses.
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The style of delivery is also quite different, not just varied but also fairly influence-driven. This can be a bad thing at times, but ‘Devils Doing Handstands’ and ‘Kings County II Ballad of a So So Glo’ both sound quite Ramones-esque without even trying too hard to do so – and that’s a pretty big compliment to give to a group of New York punk rockers.
The more diverse stylistics play to the band’s advantage for the most part, even if parts of ‘Fool on the Street’ sound like a weird, punk Animal Collective impersonation. Still, the appeal of the chorus might be the greatest on the album, with weird guitar sounds, funky percussion and a big, throaty vocal take.
There are a few tracks that don’t captivate anywhere near as much as others; ‘Cadaver’ isn’t a bad song, but it does seem like it’s there to make up the numbers. Its warped, bombastic chorus could easily get on someone’s nerves too. And that’s another problem; while Alex Levine’s vocals are as typically punk as any other punk singer, they sound a bit too “hey look how punk I am” every now and then. He suffered from that once or twice on ‘Blowout’ too, but not as badly as here.
The So So Glos are going at a steady pace; at times they play it safe, at times they’re taking risks, and on ‘Kamikaze’ it’s a pretty healthy balance. Changes haven’t been too dramatic, but ‘Kamikaze’ has more than its own identity. It’s fresh, but it’s also quintessentially punk!
‘Kamikaze’ is out now via Votiv
This So So Glos article was written by Ben Malkin, a GIGsoup contributor