Ah yes, the old free online EP trick. Was it not good enough to be mass produced? Or was it so good they wanted everyone to be able to hear it? Whatever Socratic's motives, their five-song EP Just Turn shows substantial progress from their adequate, but undeveloped Drive-Thru debut Lunch for the Sky and promise for their next full-length.
Socratic is a band whose strength lies in the subtleties of their words and music. While Lunch for the Sky exceeded expectations with their mature lyrics, the music seemed to drag through most of the album. With Just Turn, the band has drastically improved the music behind the lyrics. The pace has picked up to something more resembling a punk rhythm, the instrumentation is richly layered and driven by intricate piano playing and both acoustic and electric guitars. Socratic's gently spoken but sardonic lyrics are remarkably effective on Just Turn.
From the first lines of the opener, "Turn" -- which starts off with lullaby notes of the piano before an acoustic guitar and a pounding snare -- the cynical lyrics take front seat: "The end is here, kiddies, didn't think you'd see it? Is that what you thought? / Now every little name on your cell phone list it now don't mean shit / No matter what brand car you drive, it will all be melted metal / And us, like the world should turn turn turn / We're just little germs that turn turn turn." The second song, "Blend In" features some of the best music on the EP as well as some equally entertaining lyrics: "The next living thing was a pigeon sitting shitting on the heads walking by / What the fuck, no it's shit ain't good luck / It's just a stain on the suit like a suit is a stain on the skin / When you're in trouble it's best you just blend in." "The Spanish Singer" shows off the band's impressive harmonic abilities and multiple layers of interesting musicianship. The upbeat "I Haven't Seen You in Years" is fairly pop-oriented, and undeniably reminiscent of the Get Up Kids' "Wish You Were Here," a band that no doubt had measurable influence on Socratic's sound. The EP closes on a rather dark note with "Storms Over Parades" and features a different vocal delivery, but is no less effective than the more melodic tracks.
Major props to Socratic and Drive-Thru for releasing this EP for free. In this day and age, it's nice to see a label not trying to squeeze every dollar out of their bands' music. Just Turn is a promising sample of Socratic's latest work, with a sound that appears to be moving in the right direction. By the way, Socratic is also selling hard copies of the EP online and at their shows. So if Socratic happens to roll through my hometown anytime soon, I just might pick it up.