Review of So So Modern's album Crude Futures
So So Modern incorporate different parts of the musical spectrum as fleetingly as you would flick through a row of CDs in a shop: splashes of stilted post punk timing paired with kraut-rock synths, punk-funk yelps one minute and a piano ballad the next. Now this might strike you as avant-garde: Crude Futures' release is to coincide with a collection of photographs from Documentary maker/artist John Lake as well. But in reality, it comes over like an outlandish romp through whatever takes their fancy.
Though this is the debut album from the young New Zealanders, they've completed a couple of European tours since their beginnings in 2007. With boiler suits reminiscent of Kraftwerk and frenzied live sets, their reputation precedes the arrival of Crude Futures. You can see why Transgressive have snapped them up at any rate: they have that raw energy possessed by many of the bands on their roster, with the mathematically precise drumming last seen on Foals. 'Berlin' and 'Be Anywhere' are the highlights of the album: the former a rigid, Germanic keyboard drone, the latter a poppy explosion of yelps in the vein of Dananananakroyd.
Whilst at times Crude Futures is enjoyable purely for the lack of any formula, inevitably there are drawbacks to such wild unpredictability. As an album it kicks out in so many directions that you could argue that there's something to please everyone, but it doesn't always come off as it should. 'Dusk and Children' for example, is a slow, poignant track but it seems completely at odds with everything else around it. The stilted timings and experimentation are at times a ramshackle delight, but some points in the album are a disjointing listen. You begin by thinking that the band are simply confident but by the final spiky pulses of 'Give Everything' you wonder whether So So Modern are chasing their own tails.
Just like the album, there's no real conclusion to be made here. Crude, for sure, but of course crude in its very definition mean there's potential for refinement. If So So Modern pick a direction and go with it, we could see the best of them yet.