What’s Happened to Soho EP – The Correspondents

I guarantee you this will not be the last time I review The Correspondents, one of my all-time favorite bands, but this album is them at their most oblique and least harmonically functional. There’s no song as wild as the title track, with its chromatic chords, creepy and playful vocals, and absolutely filthy bass; it’s the perfect track for the denizens of the dark side to rebel against a society that wants nothing to do with them. I can still picture Mr. Bruce’s wide, unblinking eyes, and yet I can never determine from which direction his inimitable vocal delivery will attack the next line. Of course, the main revolutionary thing about The Correspondents is the original, alien harmony which producer Tim Cole constantly delivers. From the dark Phrygian mode mixture that opens the album to the polytonal conflicts of “Basement”, the Correspondents, as always, are in rare form here. (Just so you know, I’m never sure if any of my analyses are correct with this band.) Cole brings in instrumentation which is constantly different and constantly fantastic; “Washington Square” is a good example of this, from its satisfying horn chords to its tense, powerful string section. Those swift, complex swing drums are always a highlight as well; this here is dance music, and those hard snares are the reason why. I’d be remiss if I didn’t also point out the thrilling horn section throughout this album, which perfectly drives “Jive Man” through slow, bumpy disasters and ebullient rushes alike. There are honestly sections the listener won’t expect on this album that I don’t want to spoil; let me just say that some of the bridges on this album are as satisfying as eating an ice cream sundae. I will say- if you’ve never heard this band, start with “What’s Happened to Soho” and “Washington Square”, but also “Alarm Call”, “Inexplicable”, “Well-Measured Vice”, and “Only One Not Smiling” from their later albums; I like every song this band’s made, but you’ve got to submerge just to see the size of the Correspondents iceberg. Anyway, this album is incomparable and fantastic, and there’s so much to learn from the dangerous, deceptive games these fellows are playing. If I can get one person to listen to the Correspondents, this entire blog will have been a victory.

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