Sound — 8
South are one of those rare specimens that cauterize dreamy shoegaze soundscapes likening to The Cocteau Twins with trolleys of folk-pop sound-bytes relatable to Peter Bjorn and John. The trio's latest release You Are Here sets South up for a new round of melodies equipped with shoegaze-axles canvassing blurry coated voyages and glassy vocal textures by lead singer Joel Cadbury who, along with his bandmates Jamie McDonald and Brett Shaw, play all keyboards, guitars, percussions, and anything else that can be heard in the songs. Produced by Brett Shaw, You Are Here has threads that are partly ethereal and partly hand-woven melding together to form a phantom-like stratosphere that makes for a nice place to visit but it takes a certain kind of human to want to live in this world. The band's cascading harmonies on tracks like Every Light Has Blown and Zither Song create a glossy pomade with electro-pop glitters and trickling chimes. The chord progressions for Zither Song build up into a huge blossoming balloon before imploding and closing out the track. The ethereal-planked elevations and declines along Lonely Highs are swathe in horns and instrumentation with a Spanish flare, which produce an exotic wonderland, while the folk-pop features of The Creeping and Tell Me have a laid-back shuffling reminiscent of Peter Bjorn and John. There are a few theatrical moments which emphasize the chord accents and sculpted string patterns like in The Pain and Wasted which create a narrative setting in the songs like you are about to enter an enchanting story. Some of the passages feel like sun-catchers moving in the direction of the light and harnessing that positive energy in it's rods to hold up Opened Up and Better Things. There is a tinge of vintage rock clippings in the rhythms of Soul Receivers, There Goes Your Life, and She's Half Crazy which have a keyster liken to Pink Floyd, but the band's electro-pop glittering rays dominate a majority of the songs make-up.
Lyrics — 9
The lyrics have a universal lens seeing the bigger picture by looking at a small speck of the world and widening the image. The lyrics in the song Lonely Highs depicts this with, If you won't look back because you know it's going to happen again/ Stay up all night with the chemicals you flood in your vein/ In a world gone mad, don't let it go to your brain/ Keep it locked up tight/ Reservations is the name of your game/ I'd like to get inside you/ Chasing all my fearsWith each disguise, we lose a little more soul. The lyrics have a reminiscence of Depeche Mode's tune People Are People with lyrics that projected, So we're different colors, and we're different creeds/ And different people have different needs/ It's obvious you hate me though I've done nothing wrong/ I've never even met you so what could I have done. The words take one microscopic image and expand it to reflect an entire world.
Overall Impression — 8
South put shoegaze and folk-pop together like flour is used to make bagels. It's so natural to them that to tell them otherwise would be uncivilized. The band credits David Cross of King Crimson-fame for allowing them to be the musicians that they are, pledged by the band in a recent press release. Cross was their music teacher at London's Haverstock secondary school who tutored Shaw, Cadbury, and McDonald and permitted them into the school rehearsal space at lunchtime and after school. South hail from London, England, which you might be able to gather by their dreamy sonic grazes which share quite a bit with England's Doves and Depeche Mode. Their album You Are Here exploits creative urges strapped in components soused in shoegaze, folk, electro-pop, vintage rock, and modern theatrics. It takes a certain kind of human to want to live in this world, but for everyone else, it is an enchanting place to visit.