Wednesday, November 16, 2016
Album Review :: The So So Glos - Kamikaze
The So So Glos
November 25 2016 (Votiv Music)
Words: Richard O’Hagan
Have you ever paused to wonder what might have happened if, instead of dissolving into a haze of acrimony and drugs, The Ramones had stayed together enough and creative enough to go through the sort of ‘punk rock puberty’ that was new wave? Well, even if you haven’t, wonder no more, because New York’s The So So Glos are here to show you what could have been.
From the first bars of opening track (and current single) ‘Dancing Industry’, ‘Kamikaze’ is a frenetic, melodic, treat. Produced by the legendary John ‘Speedo’ Reis (who, in his Rocket From The Crypt days, was prone to turning out similar work on his own account), this is a record which somehow manages to tackle some serious issues – mental illness and corruption in the music industry among them – in a light and at times humorous way.
Two crucial elements hold the whole together. First of all, every song is taut and compact. None runs over four minutes (‘Magazine’ clocks in at a mere 1 minute 18 seconds!). Just as importantly, no two songs sound the same – which is not something that you can say of a lot of albums nowadays. The combination means that the album continually sounds fresh and no number outstays its welcome (although if we’re being hyper-critical, we’re stretching the point in the case of ‘Sunny Side’, which is by far the weakest song on offer).
There’s more than just that, though. If you pick up the right version of the album, you’ll get a couple of cover versions thrown in, too. These are important, because they show that this is a band with the talent not only to make something of their own writing, but also to take someone else’s and make it their own. To that end, Grandmaster Flash and Melle Mel’s ‘New York, New York’ becomes a display of controlled, apocalyptic fury, whilst Elastica’s classic ‘Connection’ is turned into something darker and more brooding, without ever losing the Wire-ish stylings of the original.
This album is, without doubt, one of the best things you will hear this year. After all, who else is going to sing about the Book of Revelations being very similar to a stolen porno mag (‘Devils Doing Handstands’)?