The old out-of-business steel mill areas of east-Central Pennsylvania are probably some of the most ignored places on the eastern seaboard, with towns like Bethlehem rendered useless after the implosion of the American industry in the late ’80s and ’90s, however, being wedged in the areas between Philadelphia and New York, it has become a hotbed for a new music scene which has recently had our attention drawn to it.
Back in August, we got a hold of the self-titled album from Lehigh Valley group SOARS, released by La Societe Expeditionnaire and it quickly became a favorite on my playlist for the late summer, working its way into the early fall. Dream-pop comes to mind first when you hear them, but its a little deeper then that. With plenty of layers and distorted, lo-fi vocals, and fairly rough sounding guitars, My Bloody Valentine and The Microphones don’t sound too different from the group.
The industrial drum beats on “Throw Yourself Apart” are quickly shrouded by the wholesome sounding reverb, a sound which as described at their band’s facebook, “mirrors the depth, beauty, and character of their regenerative post-decay rust-belt colon.” If you’ve ever driven through the occasionally depressing, yet somewhat beautiful and haunted area of Pennsylvania, makes perfect sense.
The lyrics are too shrouded to comprehend, which works to their advantage, with the layers of autumn-reminiscent noise taking over, which becomes incredibly evident in the ending of the aforementioned second track. The rest of the album continues in the same pattern, perhaps with less noise per track. Cuts like “Escape on High” with its harsh guitar and vocals remind me almost of Slowdive or Galaxie 500, while adding its own take with a somewhat robotic sounding backing. That doesn’t mean it doesn’t have its human-like moments with tracks like “Ditches” reminding us of an almost Pavement level attention to detail.
Overall the album is very melancholic in feeling, and gives off a sort of late-autumn, bordering into winter feeling, which differs it from the summery vibes of most dream pop bands.