Review Summary: A good album featuring piano laden Pop Punk which despite great highs suffers from a lot of inconsistency. Definately worth checking out all the same.
Socratic really represents the new breed of Drive Thru Records bands, gone are the days when the label would sign band after band pedalling the same brand of Pop Punk (Allister, Home Grown, Fenix TX) while those bands now seem quite endearing the labels current roster seem to offer something different. Hellogoodbye have the euro-pop twinge, Halifax are more riff based and The Early November are making concept albums. Socratic can be described as borrowing their sound from two past Drive Thru bands, Something Corporate and New Found Glory, however that isn’t to say they don’t have their own. The guitars are pretty basic, but it is the piano that really makes Socratic stand out. Played in a style reminiscent of The Rocket Summer and maybe even Elton John at a stretch it is far more upbeat than Something Corporate and the melodies are too off-kilter for New Found Glory. Overall this is a great power-pop record, which displays moments of brilliance but on the whole lacks the consistency needed for a great album.
This is unfortunate really seen as Socratic have songs which could launch them into the mainstream, while they obviously lack the accessibility of Fall Out Boy there is catchy tunes in abundance. The title track in particular is as good an upbeat song as anything on the Jack’s Mannequin record which will have you singing the hook, “All we are is lunch for the sky. Why can't we be jazz musicians? A little melody will soon be missing. All we are is lunch for the sky.” Lyrically its not got the story telling genius of Andrew McMahon or the tongue in cheek arrogance of Pete Wentz but there’s enough here to let the melodies do the talking. Another would-be hit “Alexandria as Our Lens” takes a stab at the screamo fad with the line, “Hey all you screamo. What's the deal when any talent that you lack is covered up by the fact that you can scream out really loud? Say things that were said before every lyric that you sing, it sounds the same I stay honest just enough to hate.” There no doubt referring to Underoath and Soasin etc... Rather than what the purist describe as screamo but we get the message all the same.
Sadly for Socratic for every great pop song they make (We Burn Houses, Alexandria as Our Lens, Lunch for the Sky) we are subjected to one or two ballads which is really not the bands strongpoint. “The Dense Incidents” and “U and Left Turns” really never get going and it leaves me thinking that they should have cut the album down to ten or so songs rather than fourteen. Strangely the anthemic “Funeral Masses” from their demo is possibly the best song they’ve ever wrote, yet this is also quite possibly the slowest. Some bands make good slow songs and some don’t and Socratic sit firmly in the latter camp. Listen to Mae if you would like to see how it should be done. To conclude this album contains some great songs which everyone should really check out, however as an album it really does flow all too well. “I Am the Doctor” also has to be the strangest single choice i've ever seen. Especially seen as drive-thru seem perfectly able to spot a hit with their other bands. It’s not a bad song, but far from the strongest on here.