SOAR are a band from San Francisco that draws its four members from some of the city’s best bands—with Shannon Bodrogi (of Void Boys) Jenna Marx (of joyride!), Rebecca Redman (of Watercolor Paintings) and Mai Oseto (Dreamspoiler) completing the line-up.
Their debut full-length, dark/gold, is the one of the latest releases on the ever-reliable Father/Daughter Records, and has all the ideals and heart that you’d expect from a F/D album.
The quartet swap lyrical duties and add vocals in charming four-part harmonies, creating an album that’s equally adept at tender openness and rocking out. ‘Fort Funston’ has a joyride-style indie pop meets crunchy punk rock vibe, telling the story of a break-up, set against a backdrop of the titular Bay Area nature reserve.
“Bury it in the mollusc and moss
to be forgotten in the rocks
let the waves erase
the Milky Way of shattered bones”
There’s a weary and emotionally fragile vibe on ‘Fatigue’, the narrator frustrated by a lack of reciprocation from a loved one. This theme is continued ’19th Ave’. “Loneliness is my worst addiction” go the lyrics, “But I can’t stop checking my phone, I’m so scared of being alone”. The track is about warily beginning a new relationship, of taking that risk in opening up to someone new. But, despite the apprehension and uncertainty, it ends on a positive note, including the line “I’m learning how to allow happiness.”
‘Old Dogs’ seems to flip the situation on its head, the narrator now the one who isn’t returning calls. It’s a neat twist from previous tracks, and one which reminds us that problems in any given situation is rarely the fault of just one person, that this human interaction business can be complicated.
“I’m sorry I can’t express
the feelings that I suppress
I can’t keep making you guess”
‘Domino’ hits that perfect balance between serious songwriting and subtly joyous pop punk. Set in the aftermath of a sudden death, the song sounds strong and resilient despite the pensive tone, the group chorus a bright and heartening peak. Final track ‘Keeping a Record’ smoulders with a tension that builds to a finale which sees all the band members join in with the lines, “I am keeping a record, you gave me”.
The vocal harmonies and shared songwriting, combined with the personal themes and self-reflection, have a curious effect. Whether by intent or accident, it feels like whatever problems and worries are raised are shared across the band, and by extension all of us. Too often music deals with these issues in a raw and lonely way, but SOAR show that it’s possible to be introspective and offer a sense of community at the same time.