Do You Do? (2005, Gringo
case you're like me and had no idea who this band was, Soe'za are
a six-piece, hailing from the UK. If you didn't already know that
they were British to begin with, you'd never guess from listening
to them. They have a unique take on American indie/post-rock, with
their two drummers, cello, french horn, and the singing styles of
Jenny Robinson and Ben Owen. Why Do You Do? is their second
full length album, and the first for Gringo Records.
are definitely talented musicians, but it's in the lyrical and singing
departments where the chinks in their armor are revealed. Oftentimes,
painfully so, such as the Owen-sung 'Jack Jones'. What I fail to
grasp is why even have him sing when you also have Jenny Robinson?
On this particular track he sounds, oddly enough, like an indie-rock
Brandon Boyd...with lyrics to match: "Oh I miss you/I love
you so much/fuck the great spaces/and the Chicago songs".
Easily the album's lowest point. Elsewhere, on songs like 'Genuflect'
lyrics such as "in the iris of the last eyes/in the iris
of the last eyes/could this be, the last lesson?/could this be,
the last lesson?" (not the chorus, by the way) are sung
with such importance that's it's a damn shame the lyrics aren't
very good. 'Wounded Hounds and Their Treatment' comes across as
Change-era Dismemberment Plan, and is actually Ben's best
performance both singing-wise and lyrically. Hell, Ben even kinda
looks like Travis Morrison.
up the worst song, 'Jack Jones', with the best song is an interesting
sequencing choice. The Robinson-led 'Downscale' is a slower number
that's one of those songs where, after the first few seconds of
listening to it, you're hoping that they don't find a way to fuck
it up (they don't). Here, Jenny comes across as a seductive jazz-lounge
singer, over the band's catchiest guitar line, and accompanied by
Dan's french horn. It's really on the slower songs, in particular,
that Jenny shines as a vocalist. She has enough restraint not to
overpower the track with her presence, it's just a shame that they
don't follow this path more on the rest of the album. On a few of
her other songs I find myself focusing more on the music, rather
than what she's singing. I'm not sure if that's a testament to the
band's performance or a knock against her singing.
Glow at Night" starts off with a minute or so of instrumental
goodness, then drops the ball by introducing vocals. This in itself
is not that bad of a thing, but it does nothing to enhance the song
and then about halfway through we're 'treated' to the background
shouts of "Hey, hey-hey!" and then Jenny sings nothing
particulary interesting or melodic. More often that not I wish that
they would adopt a less-is-more approach to their music. The song
ends on a fast pace with the "hey, hey hey!"'s intertwined
with Jenny singing "Ahhhhh ... Ahhhhhhh ... Ahhhhh" and
Ben singing "Eeeeeyyyyyyy". Wholly unnecessary. As a matter
of fact, singing for singing's sake "Ahh"'s, "La"'s,
"Da", "Dunna", "Dum", and "Ooh"'s
appear on, I believe 5 or 6 of the albums 9 tracks. Even Ben Gibbard
was wise enough to refrain from using "Ba Pa" on more
than one song on Transatlanticism. The overabundance of
this, to me, cements the idea that they should cut back on the song-writing.
the course of this album I found myself wishing that these songs
were just instrumental and, 7 tracks too late, the instrumental
'Length Of Rivers' pops up to remind us that Soe'za could easily
be a good instrumental post-rock band. They have a fantastic rhythm
section and the french horn is a nice addition, but unfortunately
they are just a decent indie-rock band. I would say that the lack
of memorability to the majority of these songs is what's working
the most against them...well, i do remember some of the songs for
not being particularly good, but that's not the kind of memorability
that they were going for.