Fight E.P. by SoeurRelease date: November 17, 2018
Label: Self Released
The impressive video for ‘Fight’ has been kicking around the internet for a couple of months already but it now arrives in EP form, the second from Bristol based grunge pop trio Soeur. For those of you who paid literally no attention whatsoever at school, that’s French for sister. Tina and Anya are not actual sisters, although it’s a mistake you could be forgiven for making and one they’re sure to tire of correcting. No, that sisterhood was forged in the fires of toilet venues, at the bottom of the bill beneath neanderthal idiots and dealing with heckling drunks. Based in Bristol it’s upsetting to contemplate just how much musical mansplaining they’ve had to endure from stoned electro-swing twats in ill-advised hats and amateur beards. We should be on their side. Not that that’s what Fight is particularly about. Inspired by a conversation with a friend who had left the army completely disillusioned, it opens out to a broader questioning of motivations “If I fight at all, will it ever be enough?” Fight is a cracker, a masterfully building storm that simmers up from quiet guitar and whispered vocals. They turn up the tension in small steady steps holding back the release longer than seems sensible, refusing the obvious route.
Saved for last, it’s really all about the title track. On the rest of the EP Soeur wear their influences on their sleeves and carry it off pretty well. Fronted by not one, but two, singing guitarists it’s a little bit top shop, Sleater Kinney. Bright and accomplished, they make a charming blend of 90’s indie rock, with knotty song structures and sweet intertwined vocals. ‘Quiet It’ rewrites PJ Harvey’s ‘Mansize’ while on ‘Track Back’ they’re reading from their well-thumbed copy of Kristin Hersh’s songbook. Hey, if you’re going to learn by copying (and everybody does) you may as well learn from the best. Their influences are plain enough but not overwhelming, their playing is assured and the arrangements are lean. Anya and Tina’s entwined vocals burn through your stubborn defences. There’s no room in their songs for indulgence or waste, the precision betraying a little math-rock in there too.
Their best songs, ‘Fight’, ‘Slow Days’ (from the previous EP) see them transcend their influences and find their own voice. Here’s the thing, such is their poise, their idea of what they’re aiming for, that you suspect they know this. That these songs pad out a five-track EP because they’re too good to just throw away but not quite good enough to make the debut album. Their path to greatness and/or mid-level indie infamy seems to now unroll before them like the yellow brick road. They’ve been featured by BBC introducing and granted the Lamacq seal of approval/kiss of death that ought to see this shuffling onto 6music playlists next month. If they don’t pop up on Jools before the summer I’ll be really quite surprised. Fight should see them reaching a bigger, wider, audience but who’s going to get them there? Will it be Jools or Lamacq? There’s only one way to find out…