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South Central – Society of the Spectacle

South Central, Society of The Spectacle

Review by Jack Foley

IndieLondon Rating: 2 out of 5

SOUTH Central have reportedly spent hours and hours honing the sound of their debut album, Society of the Spectacle as they seek to usurp the likes of Pendulum as the new sound of dark dance.

Sadly, it’s a very mixed bag that veers wildly between radio friendly and occasionally likeable to droning, repetitive and forgettable.

Taken as a whole, it’s an epic sonic experience that is pretty unrelenting.

Enormous drums frequently pummel down alongside ghost-in-the-machine synths, while guitars, bass, live and electronic drums, Japanese gadgets, compressors, Moogs and Hammonds add embellishments.

There are sung vocals, warped electronic ones and guest appearances from ‘80s electronic icon Gary Numan and A Place To Bury Strangers. But as layered and thoughtful in concept as the album may appear, the listening experience is polarising.

Needless to say, fans of Pendulum, The Prodigy, Noisia and Innerpartysystem are probably best equipped to love it… and probably have their eyes on them anyway as a result of having seen them support several of those acts in recent months.

But if you’re looking for a hard-hitting electronic dance act with genuine crossover appeal, as hinted at by the euphoric single The Day I Die (the pick of the LP), you may well be disappointed.

Album opener Nu Control lays the foundation for generally what to expect – pounding drums, menacing synth sounds and warped vocals that work best in small doses.

It’s a relief to hit The Day I Die so early, suggesting that the album as a whole will balance such moments of heaviness with radio friendly. But

Bionic reverts back to the harder industrial sound of the album opener and quickly becomes boring.

South Central might claim they listened to and were inspired by more recent Chemical Brothers offerings in places (such as S.O.S, but they lack that appeal. While their fondness for a warped sound vocally and instrumentally lends it a robotic, non-personal and highly manufactured vibe that’s strangely soulless.

Hence, tracks like Demons and The Fourth Way suffer from the same criticisms, while even the presence of Numan on Crawl flatters to deceive. Yes, the nods to Numan’s own Are Friends Electric? are clever and well-judged but they also pale by comparison to classic Numan.

Far better, ironically, is their collaboration with A Place To Bury Strangers on The Moth, which thrives on its head rush combo of electronic and guitar riffs and comes across like darker, more addictive New Order on drugs.

Alas, such moments aren’t enough to save the album as a whole from a general feeling of indifference (at least from this reviewer).

Download picks: The Day I Die, Anima, The Moth

Track listing:

  1. Nu Control
  2. The Day I Die
  3. Bionic
  4. Demons
  5. S.O.S
  6. No Way Back
  7. The Fourth Way
  8. Paris In The Twentieth Century
  9. Anima
  10. Crawl feat Gary Numan
  11. Society of The Spectacle
  12. The Moth feat A Place To Bury Strangers