Second Chants, released in 2009 and Know Touching in 2011 revealed Sore Eros’ characteristic dreamy, melodic sound led by Robert Robinson’s wavering vocals and Adam Langellotti’s layered guitar, with synth melodies and hissing percussion that is often erratic but equally harmonious. Sore Eros’ new tape Sickies Volume 2 (Sterling Silver the Alien) develops the strain of sensitive bedroom pop dipped in twee melodies and airy vocals, with harmonicas and heartfelt lyrics adding to the whimsical innocence and melancholic consistency of the album.
Side A’s opening song “In the Hay” introduces the manic, underwater shimmer that conveys the mood of the album as a whole. Meandering acoustic guitar and a soft percussive build-up tricks a sense of optimism that quickly mellows into a steady tempo and contrary lyrics: “I’m feeling blue today, I lost my needle in the hay/ I’m feeling down today, so go away, so far away.” This is interrupted by a hazy textural shift to muted but crisp electric guitar and compressed drums coupled with: “I’m feeling fine today so come along, join us all/ I’m feeling great today, let’s roll around in the hay.” The delirious uncertainty of emotion makes listening playful and reflective, defining Sore Eros’ sound – wayward, confusing lyrics complemented by contradicting melodies.
Emphatic strumming on “Cry So Slow” continues the sensitivity of “Corridors” and “Loves Up” on Side A. Vocals reminiscent of Stephen Rand of The Loneliest Christmas Tree fade into the song, drowned by swelling drums and layered with soft electric guitar whose melody is secretive and hushed. The instrumentation highlights the wistful feeling, especially towards the end where the vocals become clear and intense. Although “Cry So Slow” is memorable and equally melancholy, “In the Hay” is the song that is most similar to the soft psychedelia and novel, haunting quality of “Before Animals” on the previous album Second Chants. Listen here to both.
“Before Animals” by Sore Eros, from Second Chants (2009):
On Side B, “Headlong” delivers the listener into a cosmic space, perfect for a Miltonian Satan to wander through, vulnerable and lonely as synth intervals chime paths in space, with Robinson’s whoo-ing and wailing breaking the sparkling murk with harmonious, ghostly interference.
“Wind Taken” places the listener in the dreamy ether again, as the sprite-like vocals and familiar, compressed drums return with harmonica that seems improvised but still manages to retain a cohesive melody and mood. Declarations of awe on “Buzz Stew” (“I saw the light”) prepares the listener for more lyrical repetition in “Try To Forget” where Robinson sings: “Don’t know why, don’t know why, don’t know why, I can’t talk.” Saturated, off key guitar lines add to the charm of anxious repetition that dissolves into playful wailing and wobbly, tape-wound static.
Sore Eros’ Sickies Vol. 2 (Sterling Silver the Alien) is the sound of a soft focus dream, developing and weaving whimsical harmonies with dream-pop sensibilities and craftsmanship that allows for the instruments to gain prominence in each song at the right time. Sore Eros’ songs create something new by tweaking the familiar and not being obsessed by it; by being unwary of influence and open to experimentation.
Despite the clever palindrome for a band name, collaborations and tours with Ariel Pink, Gary War and Kurt Vile, it’s a surprise that Sore Eros hasn’t garnered a reputation for being one of the best bands in the realm of what is classified as lo-fi bedroom pop. Classify them as one may, this is an album for those everyday spaces of the in between, where we are neither happy nor sad, but try to be content with living in this space.