Monday, March 30, 2009

Live: Soren Well

When: 4/24
Where: Glasslands

It was summer when I last checked in with shoegazers Soren Well, and since that time, the band has gone through a slew of line-up changes and stylistic shifts. Most noticeably, the band is now a four-piece, down one guitarist from last summer. They've also incorporated electronic beats into their songs, doubling the live drums.

The last time I saw Soren Well, frankly, it was a sludgy mess. The songs were indistinguishable from one another and the band had to drag them along like a ball and chain. There were some impressive things - some great guitar work and in particular, a very commanding stage-presence that could almost convince the audience the music wasn't boring. Because of these traits, I thought the band might have potential and decided to check back periodically.

And I'm very glad I did! The band has completely reinvented themselves since that time, keeping only the good - the great guitar sound and the confident performance style. Losing their second guitar, although (rumor has it) not the band's choice, was the best thing that could have happened for them. The heavy sludge and clutter has disappeared, and what remains are rich walls of sound and brilliant riffs. The electronic beats have picked up the band's tempos a bit and have given them a new level of rhythmic intricacy. And singer Jason (I don't know his last name) can finally be heard crafting his amorphous but lovely melodies in a voice that bears no small resemblance to the Verve's Richard Ashcroft.

Overall, Soren Well's new songs are poppier, more tightly constructed and more varied than ever before. The songwriting has vastly improved, though some numbers still wear on a little too long. The songs are also a little too "samey" - but far less so than they once were. I also wish the melodies were yet one more step towards catchy - they drift a little too much - but they're certainly not bad. The band's final three numbers kicked up the tempo even more and brought the set to a truly excellent close.

As Soren Well continues to find their identity as a band and hone their style, it's safe to expect something outstanding.


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