Soviet, "We Are Eyes, We Are Builders"

Saturday, 13 July 2002 19:00 Nate Smith Reviews - Albums and Singles
E-mail Print PDF
Mogul Electro
'We Are Eyes, We Are Builders' was released last year on Ronnie Martin of Joy Electric's Plastiq Musiq label, but apparently Soviet have split with Plastiq and rereleased the album on Mogul Electro, which was responsible for the Electroclash comp (and NYC festival) of last fall. An interesting move; I wonder if it was Plastiq's poor distribution that made them jump ship. I've been really digging Soviet since last year when I unexpectedly caught them live in New York, just as the whole "electroclash" scene was picking up momentum, and I've been listening to the Plastiq version of this CD for months. What makes them stand out to me from most of the other electroclash stuff is the lack of pretention and posturing in their presence and the absence of angst and innuendo in the music. This probably has a lot to do with roots - unlike a lot of the electroclash bands, Soviet didn't come from the downtown scene; instead, the downtown scene found Soviet and embraced them. Soviet's songs are wholly influenced by the synth-driven 1980s, but instead of being specifically influenced by a particular group or genre, Soviet takes the best of the early-to-mid '80s as a whole; the fact that nearly every song on the album sounds like a hit single is a testament to the group's pop songwriting abilities, particularly of singer Keith Ruggiero and synth player Chris Otchy. The music is almost earnest in melody and lyrics, and Ruggerio obviously knows his way vocally around a song. Probably there is a bit of irony in the music and lyrics, but if it is, it's buried somewhere hard to find, and suprisingly, this lack of irony make the music even more likable. The recording quality is great, too - though obviously fully digital, the synth and drum machines are warm and full; this CD sounds excellent when played loud through a good stereo. This rerelease of the album replaces two tracks from the Plastiq version with two newer instrumentals, and the track listing has been completely reordered (though not necessarily for the better Ð "China," the original opener, was a superb beginning for this album, and now it's been delegated to the 10th spot out of 12). The songs have been also been remixed, and the most notable change is the addition of Kenan Gunduz's guitar on a number of tracks. In essence, this is probably a smart move, as it better reflects Soviet's live show, but to someone like me who's pretty familiar with the original release, some of the guitar seems tacked on. But perhaps I'm just not used to it, and a fresh listener might not detect anything weird. Regardless, I think this album is leagues ahead of the rest of the electroclash pack. When compared with most of their peers, Soviet's songs are more skillfully written and recorded, and they better reflect their influences without falling into territory that's too derivative. If you like any of the more popular electroclash outfits,ÊI highly recommend checking out this CD, though I might still harbor a preference for the original Plastiq Musiq version.

 

samples:


Last Updated on Tuesday, 31 January 2006 14:31