Monday, April 23, 2018

Review of Smol Data's "Smol Data: The EP"

I posted this review earlier tonight on the Sputnik Music website:

Review Summary: What kind of monster doesn't love a glockenspiel?

Smol Data is a 5-piece band from Long Island, New York, that has only been around since September of 2017. I struggle to tell you their genre. They're a little bit dream pop and a little bit shoegaze, but with some harsher, more dissonant sounds mixed in. Their Facebook page describes their genre as "Guitar go 'dur nurnur nur', keyboard go 'beep boop'," for however much that helps. Their bandcamp page tags them as "soundtrack", "bedroom pop" and "idk". They have a love for the artist known as Oso Oso, and share some of his emo attitude. None of these descriptions nails it completely, but if you take all of them together and picture them as forming one big sphere, somewhere dead in the middle, you'll find Smol Data.

Smol Data: An EP is their second release of the year. It contains five songs, the best two of which are reworked versions of tracks from their first EP, Smol Data: The Demo

I know that 2.5 stars doesn't sound like a great rating, but it's all relative. Sometimes I might give an album 3 stars for good execution, but still find the music a little boring. These guys don't bore me at all. It's just that I feel like they're not fully formed yet. The truth is they're a little raw, maybe even still a little amateurish, but there's something charming about them. "Normal Jeans" (which was called "Normie Beans" on the first EP) is actually quite a good song, and at least three of the other four tracks on this EP have some good ideas, even if they're not completely developed. The lead singer Karah Goldstein isn't really hitting the notes dead on, but I have a feeling that's a deliberate choice on her part, and either way, there's something I like about her. And I absolutely love the band's use of the glockenspiel.

They mostly lost points with me because of that whole raw quality that I mentioned earlier, and because they do some weird-ass things with the recording process (like having Gillian Pitzer's backing vocals so low in the mix in some spots that it's practically subliminal, and having them only coming out of one speaker, so if you listen with headphones, it's like you're hearing voices in your head that might or might not be telling you to sell all of your earthly possessions, move to the desert and live only off of raw iguana meat). I could also do with a little less harshness in the music, but that's more about my own personal taste than an actual shortcoming of the band.

Anyway, I can't fully recommend the EP, because it's a cake that's still half baked. But if these guys stay together for any length of time, I'm looking forward to their future projects. And hell, what kind of monster doesn't love a glockenspiel?

Rating: 2.5 of 5 stars