Sophia are back after a seven year hiatus and their droning shoegaze is as razor sharp as ever. As We Make Our Way (Unknown Harbours) is an epic collection of indie-rock with plenty of post-rock guitars and some neoclassical touches added for good measure. Released by The Flower Shop Recordings on vinyl LP and CD.
8/10 Clinton Staff review, 20 April 2016
Hi Sophia, been awhile. My friends child who was named after the band is now five or something which I think is roughly the number of years since the last Sophia album (actually seven).
Sophia are the project of the magnificently named Robin Proper-Sheppard formerly of the God Machine who were a lot more noisy and angular. Sophia instead are good at creating slow drifting semi-rock songs that have the kind of visceral atmosphere’s Coldplay would have if they were actually good. The opening track here ‘Unknown Harbours’ showcases everything Proper Sheppard is good at -i.e letting songs build slowly then hitting you with a big, almost singalong chorus. It’s like if Sigur Ros sang in a language that actually made you feel something. To enjoy Sophia you have to be able to deal with serious songwriting about serious things. There are lots of brows being furrowed here but Sophia do it better than anyone else. The key seems to be to stretch songs out so you are hanging on every utterance from his mouth coupled with being able to produce beautiful guitar textures. I’m reminded a lot of the music of Greg Dulli - a dark baritone voice over brooding half paced guitar rock. It's generally big slabs of downbeat emotion but it occasionally lightens up as on the lovely cheery 'California' which is breezier but still benefits from a wonderful tangle of guitars or the Swell - like tight acoustic based thump of 'St Tropez/The Hustle' that veers towards Fleetwood Mac 'Tusk' territory.
It’s kind of hard to pinpoint why this is great and Coldplay isn’t - primarily they are doing the same thing. It’s emotion I guess, both in the lyrics and in the evocative guitar lines. It’s expertly produced, clear as a whistle and should be good enough to fill stadiums. It won't fill any stadium near here however but you are welcome to your Elbows, Sophia make ‘big’ music that it is ok to like.
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- As We Make Our Way (Unknown Harbours) by Sophia
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