The So So Glos – Tourism/Terrorism (Green Owl)

December 8, 2009 by  

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Sometimes even the most honed instincts can be proven very wrong indeed. Just seconds into the twee, jingly intro to album opener “There’s A War”, I had mentally filed The So So Glos into the category “Utterly Average”. 27 minutes and nine tracks later, my opinion had been turned inside out. “Tourism/Terrorism” is an accomplished, interesting and stylish album. Even if it is ludicrously short for a full-length release.

The So So Glos have been around for some time, at least in their Brooklyn hometown. This album was originally released there last year, and it, as well as the band taking an active hand in the establishment of Brooklyn’s Market Hotel as a new music Mecca, has seen the band firmly identified with the area’s growing punk scene.

This may be a little misleading however. There are certainly punk elements to “Tourism/Terrorism”, gang vocals are heavily used, as well as a variety of crashing percussion instruments and the odd hint of profane language. Frontman Alex Levine’s delivery is at times almost unintelligible, falling into the same category as Pete Doherty’s more undirected rambles with the Libertines.

At times this approach sounds a little self-consciously overdone. This is noticeable particularly on “Throw Your Hands Up” Everyone understands if a surfeit of emotion causes you to spew out your inner pain in lyrical form, but there isn’t much depth of feeling here, so the incoherence is a bit out of place.

“Isn’t It A Shame” is better. More melodic, more focused, and ultimately more successful. Even during its not-very-radio-friendly refrain of “Fuck The FCC”, its aggression is much more defined and directed. “Island Loops” is also particularly good.

Maybe more likely to be a breakthrough track for The So So Glos is “Love Or Empire”. For once, the vocals are restrained and echoing, overlaying a pleasing acoustic guitar construction. The only irritation is the drum-machine style breakdown in the third minute.

Not everything works so well though. Despite the rich, drawn out guitar note background of “There’s a War”, the song as a whole is directionless, evidenced perhaps by its sudden fadeout ending. The So So Glos seem to work best when animated, and this song is anything but.

There is definitely a market for this species of modern indie-punk. Quite how lucrative a market it can be remains to be seen. I for one hope to follow the progression of an honest, distinctive young band.

[rating:3]

Liam Clune


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