It’s rough being a musician. Years of dedication, practice and sacrifice are reflected in short pieces of work upon which your skill, talent and worth are judged in mere seconds, often by someone who has little idea the hardship that went into it. Along comes a critic without a taste for your sound and your life’s work to date is trashed and discarded alongside whatever else didn’t quite tickle their fancy that week. It’s the modern situation we find ourselves in, as artists vie for attention and consumers are overwhelmed with choices, and I can empathize with the artists toil as I’ve experienced it myself many times.
So here I am this week wearing my critic hat exploring the new album ‘Waste’, from French noise/hardcore band Sofy Major. Before listening, this makes sense for me to review; I’m aware of the band after their excellent 2013 album ‘Idolize’, my taste includes the various bands listed as influences, it includes the bands they sound like, it includes the bands they tour with. But despite all this, and unfortunately for everyone involved, ‘Waste’ will become exactly that once I’m done typing this review.
‘Waste’ immediately sounds like a good album. The opening title track and following two songs ‘We See Fire’ and ‘Turning Point’ are decent heavy rock, offering some promising riffs and incredible bass sound, showing a tentative composure in what is a drastically different style from their usually much more raucous and unrestrained sound. Originally a kind of hardcore/noise/punk band, with influences like Dead Kennedy’s, Napalm Death, Neurosis and The Melvins, Sofy Major have mellowed to embrace a Soundgarden, Handsome, Helmet vibe. Nothing wrong there in principle, those are all great bands, the change just hasn’t worked for Sofy Major.
Again with uncanny foresight, ‘Turning Point’ is exactly that, the rest of the album from this point on feeling largely uninspired and boring, often verging on something good but never succeeding to extend past mediocre. There’s a lackadaisical approach to the vocal that kind of dampens the effect of the music and softens any rough edges that might have otherwise added excitement. Combine this style with unremarkable accompaniment and unimaginative song structures, and you get a lack of variation that results in a tiring listen.
What caught my eye as a possible high point was the inclusion of Les Thugs cover for finale ‘As Happy As’, but even this lacks invention or charisma and fails to come close to the energy and emotion of the original.
Overall it’s a disappointing effort from such a good band. Sofy Major’s previous albums had a raw passionate edge whereas ‘Waste’ feels pedestrian and void of individuality. On an artistic level I can sympathize, they’ve taken a leap in a new direction, doing something that for themselves is fresh and new, but on this occasion the change doesn’t suit them and Sofy Major has missed the mark.
(4/10 Kane Power)