SOS‘ new self-titled album has had my jaw on the ground since I first heard it, it’s raw, it’s visceral, it’s atmospheric, it’s haunting and it’s beautiful.
You can hear from the opening track ‘Light’ a range of influences, the Newport duo made up of singer Randa Leigh, and producer/multi-instrumentalist Brian Vincent, point to musicians such as The XX, Aaliyah, D’Angelo and Kanye West as key influencers but there’s a special etherealness and appetite for experimenting to this album that also points to musicians like Ratatat, Imogen Heap and Goldfrapp.
The combination of Leigh’s almost fragile vocals with production that is all at once measured and subtle as it is leering and violent, creates a sound that I can best describe as a perfect, youthful, drunken portrait. It’s a portrait that explores a full range of adolescence, from self-destructive urges in SOS, the playful and flirtatious ‘iLikethatURnice’ through to the sex soaked ‘sheWants’.
Personally I will not stop pressing repeat on ‘Gorgeous’, the production work in this track is a highlight of the album, with SOS taking you on a journey from the highs of Leigh’s restrained, sweet vocals, complemented by Vincent’s light and shimmery echoes, before exploding a reverberating and expansive bass to bring darkness to the track. It’s a song that balances light and dark, feminine and masculine, ying and yang, etc. at the same time as being edgy, innovative and sensually good ear candy.
‘Youth in Decline’ sums up the character of this album near perfectly, and you won’t want to skip the title track itself, which captures a dystopian sense of foreboding to accompany the lyrics ‘I think I’m better, better, off, When I’m drunk or high’, which despite the substance, actually carry a sense of hope in Leigh’s execution.
One of my highlights of 2014 and beyond, it’s a special album that demands and rewards your attention from 0:00 right through to 43:00; give yourself a solid sitting to make some deep connections with SOS – this one will floor you.
Pickup SOS now from iTunes.