Grinding with a violent thrust that stops just shy of becoming viciously assaultive in nature, “Painted Veil” seems to rise from the silence in slow-motion only to rip anything within earshot of its grooves asunder the minute it reaches a sonic peak. Much like the other songs featured on SoloS’ eponymous EP, this track sees the band manipulating sonic hurricanes into vivid harmonies as few others in the American underground can nowadays. Though not as hollow and menacing as some of their forerunners, SoloS invite us into a surreal world of alternative melodies here that no other act in their scene has access to this month.
Physicality is a main factor throughout SoloS, starting with the understated monolith of “The Distance Between Us.” Whether intentionally fashioned as the biggest climax of the song or not, the beat in this track has so much presence in the mix that it’s hard to avoid the emotionality of its grating rhythm. The same can be said of the bassline in “Ghostwriter” and the vocal part in “Worlds Collide;” for this band, I get the idea that making their audience feel the music is as pivotal to their overall concept as our hearing it is.
The flow of the tracklist here is absolutely amazing, but I don’t think you have to listen to SoloS from beginning to end in the arrangement it was structured in to pick up on the cohesiveness of its material. Whether enjoyed straight through or on shuffle, this is a record that doesn’t ask a whole lot of its listeners in exchange for evocative outbursts in the forms of “Chains of the Heart” and “Painted Veil,” which is a far cry from some of the other content their closest rivals have produced lately. SoloS wanted to simplify without reducing substance, and on this front, they hit one out of the park with this EP.
Instrumentally speaking, “Unsolved Mysteries” and “Chains of the Heart” are deceptively barebones compositions from a distance, but upon closer inspection, they’re two of the more complicated numbers here. Most everything in this record has a sense of complexity to it, but I think it’s important to note that none of the music in SoloS sounds deliberately inaccessible nor condescendingly pretentious. They’re making highbrow music for discriminating ears in this extended play, but avoiding the inauthentic chest-pounding that makes it easy to spot a poser from a genuine player.
For alternative rock fans who demand a little more passion out of their performers than the status quo would call for, SoloS is an awesome listen guaranteed to stoke a reaction from you this spring. Clearly the product of two talented collaborators who could do just fine on their own (and already have), this EP is a picture window into the artistry of an act that still has a lot of potential for further development ahead. SoloS will be on my radar for the foreseeable future, and judging from this record’s warm reception, they’re going to have plenty of momentum to work with in the year ahead.
by Bethany Page