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  Soviet Soviet  

Tannen Records

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Soviet Soviet are a post-punk trio three piece from Italy. Formed back in 2008, this group's first full length, Nice, is a compilation of two earlier EPs. Having developed a reputation as a live band, the recordings found on this album reveal a group which has already honed in on its sound. With 9 songs in roughly 25 minutes, it's clear that the band has its act together in a tight manner.

In listening to Nice, it's easy to see why many people classify Soviet Soviet as "post-punk". For example, opening track Royal Casino begins with a dark, almost gothy tone that quick goes angular in a Dead Kennedys meets Rock Lobster-era B-52s sort of way. This impression is enhanced by the phrasing of vocalist Alessandro Constantini, which mimics the screamy singing technique of Jello Biafra. This notion continues into the next track, which features a darkly forbidding bass line over which Constantini yelps whilst bassist Andrea Giometti adds a lower pitched vocal counterpoint at times. As the track progresses, the guitar becomes affected and adds extra layers to the earlier, more minimal tune.

On Marksman, things become quicker and more straight-up post-punk as the beat becomes faster and instruments play counter melodies with each other. This track is more Wire-esque than anything that had come before, as the fast drumming of Alessandro Ferri highlights the intricate and quick bass playing of Giometti. From there, the band moves into First Man, Then Machine, which I suspect is better in concert than on the recording. Primarily this is due to the repeated refrain of "I'm washing your (insert various body parts)." It's oddly phrased, which is likely because the band sings in English, which is clearly not their native language. But, after that strange interlude, Soviet Soviet comes back with Lokomotiv, which adds lots of nosy effects to the quick drumming and straight-forward bassline. Like Marksman, this again harkens back to Wire and the English post-punks as opposed to the American influence I heard on the first few tracks.

However, by the time the last three tracks come around (which I believe may be from the second, later EP), Soviet Soviet has managed to combine its disparate influences into something more organic. As an example, White Details manages to pull together a echoey bassline which is still reminiscent of early B-52s and then adds a darkly shouted vocal line that brings to mind a song like Warsaw by Joy Division. Likewise, S.Y. continues in that same vein, albeit it with a more skittish drumline and extra backing vocals. The album then concludes with Bulgary, which provides more of the same, although the voice is more declarational than it has been on the earlier tracks.

All in all, Nice is a solid offering. In listening to the various tracks, it seems fairly obvious that Soviet Soviet would be an intense and interesting live act. Likewise, these recordings don't appear to lose much in the translation between venues, so to speak. While there is no way to classify this music as "easy to listen to", it's still compelling if occasionally a little anxiety-inducing. Nevertheless, it's all quite well done in the end.

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