I’m instantly taken aback by SO’s weird sing-songy falsetto vocals.
The first time I hear them it’s 14 seconds into Freaky, the opening song off their latest EP Echo Park, as I’m starting to bop along to the thunderously sick beat. Some might say they need getting used to. Others might love them right off the bat. I just find them off-putting.
SO (Standing Ovation) are a bi-coastal duo made up of Virginian producer Bronze Baby Shoes and lyricist and Echo Park resident The Character. After releasing a few singles and LPs under the moniker Nine-Fifteen, the duo took steps to expand their sonic and visual appeal. The result is SO and the Echo Park EP, which is due for release on December 9.
I’ll be the first to admit that the weird vocals do set SO apart. But they just plain abuse them, chucking them in even when they don’t serve the songs. Used sparingly, as on Nelly, they’re surprisingly effective. Used too much, they simply don’t work. SuperCharged is built entirely around them, and it’s overkill. On Stoopid, the EP’s closer, they’re unbearable.
It’s a pity, really.
The songs are replete with juicy hooks, and The Character can certainly rap with the best of them. Freaky has flow and style. Nelly, which is definitely the highlight of the EP, sports some impressive rapid-fire rapping and hard-hitting lyrics.
The beats are sick. No other word can do them full justice. They crash like a ton of bricks and propel the songs forward with relentless groove.
Unfortunately I just can’t get over the weird vocals.
Echo Park definitely has its shining moments and showcases some great potential. Where it fails, it’s because SO get too self-indulgent with their quirks. They should definitely embrace their uniqueness, but only when it serves the songs.