Review Summary: Neutered promise.
To address the lukewarm corpse of Tremors
' hype, retrospect helps us see why certain music "journalists" who were definitely not me
were mistaken in predicting BANKS-producer SOHN as the biggest thing to look out for in 2014. Most of the signs were there: forward facing, RnB-inspired pop, slippery smooth production and enough Soundcloud followers to populate Trinidad and
Tobago (seriously, over a million), but so far SOHN has made do with a trickle of the success he would have been justified in expecting. Somehow it just failed to kick off. Poor SOHN.
Perhaps it's all down to the name, which stunted any word-of-mouth advertisement because shouting one word of a sentence is frowned upon. It's certainly not the music outright. SOHN builds on the short legacy of James Blake et al. to offer his own quirk on self-produced indie/ RnB/ electronic pop: marrying his above-passable falsetto with more experimental yet still comfortably sensitive beats. Overall Tremors
is a very pleasant and hard to fault experience, with the vocal melody of “The Wheel” and blaring horns in the title track taking on the Goldilocks trait of not being too popy or too experimental. Instead settling in to a happy medium.
Sadly for him, music is listened to by more people than Goldilocks and neither daddy, mummy or baby bear are entirely satisfied. Despite the obvious attempts to reach out for his own style, SOHN's clean and slightly over-clinical production has the effect of sapping away a lot of what he hoped to gain with experimentation. It leaves a whole roster of great pop tunes to a sterile and robotic afterlife. For instance, listening to "Lights" is like facing the sun and not feeling any heat, and acknowledging a good song but not reacting is quite disconcerting. At the same time, SOHN takes his music too seriously to pander to the more experiment-averse crowd, which leaves him stuck in the middle: awkwardly shuffling his feet in the shy, Woody Harrelson-lookalike manner of his promo photo.
It isn't all doom and gloom. This over-engineered collection might only survive multiple listens with all the charm of your doctor's waiting room, but it still manages to be interesting, recommendable and, above all else, very listenable. SOHN is simply unfortunate in entering a genre already dominated by a few accomplished and unique artists, and finds his meticulous approach lacking the excitement brought by those before him.