Even when skirting the shadows of tracks like “The Distance Between Us” and “Painted Veil,” there’s scarcely a moment in SoloS’ self-titled EP where the beat isn’t responsible for the bulk of the record’s experimental appeal. Like a twisting stretch of highway leading us to previously undiscovered locations on the map, rhythm is an unpredictable guiding force in SoloS, bringing us from the throes of one heavy-handed groove into the next rather seamlessly. While wholly unconventional, particularly in stacked compositions like “Unsolved Mysteries” and the lumbering “World Collide,” this is a record that is tough to get out of your head once you’ve heard it for the first time (which isn’t something I’ve been able to say about a lot of the EPs landing on my desk this April).
Aside from the rhythmic presence of percussion, there’s a wonderful lyrical substance to most all of the material presented to us on SoloS, with even the most instrumentally-centric tunes here – like “Chains of the Heart,” for example – sounding poetic and linguistically profound. The multilayered style of the master mix makes it possible for us to divide our attentions equally between the vocal prowess taking place in the eye of the storm and the instrumental grooves defining the backend of the music at all times. There isn’t any excess space lingering over the bassline in “Ghostwriter,” much as there isn’t any fluff of the beat that breathes life into the stinging “The Distance Between Us” at the start of the tracklist.
There’s an artsy, post-punk influence in play here that I would love to see SoloS experiment with a little more than they already have in the future. “Worlds Collide” and “Unsolved Mysteries” flirt with a noise-inspired industrial sound that could be stretched into something far more virtuosic in the capacity of a full-length record, and were “Painted Veil” given a touch more polish on its finish, it would probably sound more like a melodic take on some vintage Throbbing Gristle than it does anything else. SoloS are working with a very diverse skillset between them, and provided they’re able to keep exploiting it as well as they have in this eponymous EP, they’re going to see even more success in the 20’s than they have in the entirety of their career together thus far.
It’s been a long odyssey for this collaborative west coast outfit, but in this extended play, SoloS deliver what could be one of the more stimulating sonic endeavors of the spring season. Alternative music has been enjoying quite the resurgence in creative prosperity in the last few years, and thanks to the efforts of independent units like this one, it’s hard to imagine this new decade now heralding some sort of a renaissance for the genre’s most talented players. SoloS are asserting themselves as leaders within their scene in this record, and moving forward, I think they’re going to be treated as such because of its endearing and infectious content. I’ll be watching closely, and I doubt I’ll be the only one.