Solea - Solea (Cover Artwork)
Staff Review


Solea (2005)


For Texas is the Reason fans being first associated with Solea through this, the band's first full-length, a self-titled effort, hearing lead singer / guitarist Garret Klahn's voice again should be a treat in itself. However, they'll also be pleased to know that what Solea brings to the table overall is a sound that makes a lot of sense considering the pedigree. Ex-members of Samiam/Knapsack and Sense Field fill out the lineup, and Solea's second wave emo-influenced (actually, can we say "influenced" if the members at hand are the influence? Or in the very least, part of?) alternative pop/rock is executed in a similar fashion. It's thoughtful and reflective, yet slightly playful with a strong pop sense, a collection of songs crafted with a superb sense of melody and a sense of simplicity -- I'm thinking Promise Ring middle of their career here -- that seems all too watered down by the aforementioned bands' latest wave of followers, but sincere and old-fashioned in the context of Solea.

The band is at their best in cuts like "Apotheke" and "Where You Belong." The former is the album's opener, and gets things going with a chorus that could potentially be described as "big" if not for the lack of tacky arena rock production / significant tempo change. The harmonizing chorus of "you are all that matters now" in the latter sounds rather declarative between the foot-tapping beat of the verses. "Shuffle" couldn't be titled better, either. Outside of these and "Leaving Today" (worth a listen just for its riffs reminiscent of the guitar strum in George Michael's "Faith"), the rest of the album may not bear specificied mentioning, but it's nonetheless a solid batch of just-whelming tracks.

The production on Klahn's voice is a bit of an annoyance, however. Ever turn on an older model television set and have to be greeted by some white noise as it gets up and running? Not necessarily the crackly static of channels with no reception, but rather, the high-pitched "wheeeen" sound as the screen materializes from gray to color (or black and white images, even) and the audio from said "wheeeen" to whatever sounds the channel last left on should be emitting. That's the type of effect we're often dealing with when Klahn sings, and while it doesn't severely damage the enjoyability of Solea, it's a notable detractor.

Solea is a definitively respectable entry into its style. However, we all know the band could do better than this, and I'm already waiting in anticipation for them to deliver something that affirms just that.


Review of Original Edition