Signed to the ever-reliable Father/Daughter Records, San Francisco’s SOAR came together in 2015 when four queer and femme friends who fronted their respective bands decided they wanted to try their hands at something a little more collaborative. ‘dark/gold’ is their debut album and it’s one flourishing with creativity.
The opener ‘Fort Funston’ has a slow indie-pop build up and a delicious melody while gentle, lilting vocals talk about the Milky Way and then the bittersweet: ‘When you told me this was it I remember looking at a brick in the wall and wishing I was just air’. This is followed by a crash of instrumentation that wouldn’t fit out of place on an album by The National. ‘Secret Santa’ follows this and again this one has a pensive tone: ‘I’ve heard you’re trying to forget her. How’s that working out?’ A short song, it contains elements of both Against Me and classic C90 bands. ‘Fatigue’ is about pining for someone who doesn’t reciprocate the feelings (and try not to feel SOAR’s heartbreak): ‘I’m tired of feeling like I didn’t do something right. I’m tired of feeling like you’ll never be mine’.
There are different vocalists on many songs and they all have distinctive voices, meaning it’s always exciting to hear what comes next. ‘Speakwrite’ has a Warpaint-esque opening full of distortion, chanted group vocals and huge-sounding bass before it evolves into a ‘90s college rock anthem, while ‘Old Dogs’ has catchy hooks more in common with contemporaries the Spook School. The band talk about teaching an old dog new tricks while giving themselves a detailed self-analysis: ‘They say people change but I can’t hide the fact that I hurt you every time I forget to call you back’; ‘I can’t be everything that you miss’. Clocking in at just two minutes and 45 seconds, ‘Domino’ is all about an unexpected death and it tackles the subject with honesty and candour: ‘It was as sudden as an earthquake, my knees, they shake about it’. It then goes on to state about the deceased’s empty house and how their bones are buried in it under a willow tree – all while guitars chime in quite joyful fashion. There’s also a painful air of nostalgia wrapped around the closing ‘Keeping a Record’; a song with huge guitar and even more brooding bass.
‘dark/gold’ is a charming record with so many ideas and melodies being thrown in with relish. Although some of the songs have deep and dark subject matter, the band tackle them with the same kind of humour and humanity as The Flaming Lips. SOAR will fly to the top…