Southall Riot

It's Science vs. The World

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U.K.'s Southall Riot is one of those bands that can be a bit frustrating to listen to -- not because they are bad, in fact, it is quite the opposite. Southall Riot has proven that they have a gift for writing unironically vintage-sounding, jangling, 1960s-flavored edgy pop songs, but they carefully hide them among tripped-out, space rock instrumental tracks that, while they would be plenty interesting on their own, pale in comparison to the pop gems. The EP opens with the Pink Floyd-ian "It's Science vs. the World!," a deliberately paced wash of mysterious sounds. Perhaps the easiest way to describe it is that it is like standing next to an electricity substation, buzzing and humming loudly, but being able to hear a guitar being strummed in the distance. Again, if released by any number of psych-rock bands, it would be brilliant, but the Riot is capable of so much more. A mere appetizer for what is to follow. Southall Riot gives listeners a taste of their brilliance with "The Test of Clouds and Kites" and its ethereal echoing vocals, peppy guitar strumming, and bouncy bass accompaniment. The record continues on with tracks like "Sigma Calypso" and "AVM," which feature wonky sci-fi sounds that would almost be at home on a Man or AstroMan? record (minus the surf vibe) and what seem to be haunting swells of E-Bow. However, the real payoff comes at the record's end, where Southall Riot is again spoiling us with their shimmering pop, as wispy love song "Obsessive" pulls the listener in with its lovely male vocals, quietly strummed guitar riff, and simple drum beat that call to mind the dreamy craftsmanship of Tobin Sprout, but with lyrics that are less abstract and more effective as a result. "It's not a lost cause yet, because/some of us still fight long wars/yes we do." One of the decade's best, though overlooked, songs.

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