I was incredibly confused when I listened to …soIhadto…’s album Adventure Stories (Not Based on Fact?). I was looking forward to a pop punk band: unneccessary punctuation, weird capitalization, questions in the title, the word “adventure,” the whole nine yards. As kitschy as a band name/album name combo can get? Pretty close.
…soIhadto… is actually an instrumental post-rock band, heavy on the rock. Yeah, I know, right? Wouldn’t have guessed that in a million years. I guess that’s why reviewers listen to albums instead of look at them. Who knew?
Having already reviewed an incredibly good post-rock album this year in Post Harbor’s They Can’t Hurt You If You Don’t Believe In Them, my critical ears immediately went into comparison mode. Where Post Harbor’s post-rock was heavy on the post (i.e. mood and melody), …soIhadto…’s is heavy on the rock (i.e. riffs and riffs and riffs). So I pretty much had to shut down the compare-o-meter as soon as I started it up.
As …soIhadto… is big into riffs and guitar heroics, I didn’t connect with their music as thoroughly as I did other bands. It’s not that they neglect mood; “Please Friends Warn Me If They Agree” sets up a very expectant mood for the first forty-five seconds of the songs. It’s that the mood is often a means to an end; in this case, it’s the megariff that hits at forty-six seconds. Is it an awesome riff? Yes. But when the band uses what I consider to be one of the main joys of the genre (extended mood sections) as a means to an end, it’s a bit slighting to me. It feels like …soIhadto… is a rock band that somehow lost its vocalist instead of a true post-rock instrumental band.
Let me reiterate: “Please Friends…” is freakin’ awesome. I wish I had written the riff that they crank out at the end of the song. But it just feels oddly misplaced without vocals. Then again, for those who are upset with post-rock’s inability to stop feeling and just kick out the jams, …soIhadto… might be just the thing. I mean, there’s not too many places you’re going to get the all-out modern rock rush of “The Plumber and the Peacock.”
The songs aren’t all as egregious offenders as “Please Friends…” Tunes like “Come and Get Me in My Sleep” stretch out for eight minutes, and several of them are spent on the type of musical experimentation and wankery that I’ve come to expect from the genre.
Adventure Stories (Not Based on Fact?) is a solid instrumental post-rock release. The members are all talented musicians and their collective vision is fully realized, resulting in some powerful songs and mighty riffs. I just don’t connect with that vision very well.