Review: Jack Foley
I HAVE to confess, right off the bat, that I hadn't heard about
Sophia until receiving this, his third album.
Described as 'Mogwai performing the songs of Coldplay', Sophia
is, basically, former God Machine maestro, Robin Proper-Sheppard,
and, according to the publicity surrounding People Are Like
Seasons, marks the artist at his most 'broad-shouldered'.
The sound is less introverted and far more expansive than on
earlier efforts, and a little more hopeful to boot.
Although the sadness that tinged much of his earlier work is
still apparent in many of the guitar riffs, and melancholy lyrics,
this isn't the sort of album that drags you down - rather, it
forces you to sit up and take notice, with some quite blistering
changes in tempo.
Proper-Sheppard is still, undoubtedly, haunted by the death of
his former band-mate, Jimmy Fernandez, particularly during more
pensive moments such as Desert Song No.2, which finds him
asking, 'do you need someone, do you need a friend?' And later,
'someone to hold, that lets the light shine through'.
But there is also a more upbeat tone about things, marked by
the return to the sort of dark, heavy rock that God Machine were
best known for, and which effectively provokes comparisons with
the likes of Black Rebel Motorcycle Club and, to a certain degree,
White Light Motorcade, in the process.
There are even moments when Proper-Sheppard's tortured, but gentle,
vocal style evokes comparisons with former Smashing Pumpkins'
frontman, Billy Corgan, while some of the musical compositions,
particularly during the slower tracks, does hint at Coldplay (although
not as noticeably as the PR might suggest).
And as pensively beautiful as the seven-minute opus, Desert
Song No.2 remains throughout, the album is certainly at its
most striking during the louder moments, when the guitars come
to the fore and Proper-Sheppard remembers past glories.
The grungy, scuzzed up Darkness (Another Shade In Your Black),
for instance, is a terrifically brooding track, with a psychedelia-laced
chorus, which screams out to be played loud; while If A Change
Is Gonna Come is pure BRMC - all roaring guitars, gutsy attitude
and hard-hitting rock anthem.
There are nods to Filter's Take A Picture in the happy-go-lucky,
acoustic rock of Holidays Are Nice, when Proper-Sheppard
finally sounds happy, as well as a bitingly sad feel to moments
such as Swore To Myself, which features lyrics such as
'I swore to myself I'd never get lost again' and 'please, won't
you let me come in?'
But then the changes in pace also serve it well, keeping the
listener on their toes.
Even lead single and opening track, Oh My Love, sets things
up nicely, possessing all the hallmarks of an indie-pop crossover,
which really ought to get wider airplay than it's probably going
Mojo describes it as an exorcism, both artistically and personally,
for its lead singer, and it certainly feels as though a great
weight has been lifted.
People Are Like Seasons is, as its title suggests, an
eclectic, ever-changing, collection of rock songs which can be
as biting as a cold Winter's day, or as warming as the Summer
1. Oh My Love
2. Swept Back
4. Desert Song No 2
5. Darkness (Another Shade In Your Black)
6. If A Change Is Gonna Come
7. Swore To Myself
8. Holidays Are Nice
9. I Left You
10. Another Trauma