Sonic Avenues – Disconnector

Band: Sonic Avenues
Album: Disconnector
Release: October 7, 2016

Back in October the Sonic Avenues released their fourth full-length LP, Disconnector. This band has been on my radar for quite some time, especially with them being one of my husband’s favourite bands. Whenever a band you really like puts out a new release, you tend to get nervous, you never know if it’ll be up your alley or not. This album came in the mail while I was away in America, and of course my husband couldn’t resist giving it a spin while I was gone. He immediately texted me to tell me how much he liked it.

This album is definitely different from the band’s previous releases, but at the same time, it doesn’t necessarily sound like it’s not the Sonic Avenues. It’s got heavy post-punk vibes, but the sound and Max’s vocals maintain that classic Sonic Avenues sound, despite the fact that the songs aren’t really structured like a sort of “classic” punk song, like on their previous albums. This album is extremely complex musically and there’s so much you can take from each song.

The intro to the opening track, ‘Future’ has a sort of lo-fi sound, but with post-punk overtones to it. When the guitar cuts in, it’s very garage, but like contemporary garage. The first verse takes it past into that post-punk sound again, and there’s a really flawless transition between the styles and vocal harmonies, taking you back to the stuff from their first two records. There are parts of the track that echo like a Spectres song or a Joy Division song would. It’s a very, very clever track, really, the whole album is written in a very clever way. The addition of synth on this track added depth and created a dynamic that sets Disconnector apart from the band’s previous releases.

It’s very lyrically nihilistic and the desperation in the vocals are similar to those found in Jay Reatard’s tracks, but it’s not done in a way that makes it contrived. Other tracks on this LP also harken back to Jay Reatard’s, like track three, ‘Dead Faces.’ It sounds like Lost Sounds, almost picking up where they left off. Lyrically, it’s simple and effective. It doesn’t need to be complex, because all of the complexities are in the music itself. The major difference here between the Jay Reatard-esque sound that the Sonic Avenues have created on parts of the album, and the sound you hear from a lot of other bands re-creating his trademark noise, is the fact that for the Sonic Avenues, it’s effortless. A lot of other bands forcefully try to mimic Jay, which creates an empty sort of unnatural sound, but the Sonic Avenues didn’t have to try. It just came naturally to them and it works perfectly.

The intro on the second song, ‘Burn Like Fire,’ could be from a New Order song. The way the Sonic Avenues blend between classic melodic, poppy-punk and a sort of dark wave sound, is what New Order wanted to sound like if they had more of a guitar element. Don’t get me wrong, New Order are great, but this is a much more “pulled together” sort of sound.

Track four, ‘Dancing in the Sun’ has a vocal delivery that’s very similar to that found on the band’s first three albums, but remains completely different from prior releases in terms of its overall sound. Their use of guitar on this track has tremendous impact.

This band has always been great at creating different textures in their sound with their guitar usage, but this track has really effectively built up the lead guitar and the synth. There’s so much going on here, and the band has really pushed itself to try something different. They’ve managed to challenge themselves and go outside of their comfort zone while still playing to their strengths.

‘Tunnel Vision’ personally took me back to that year in high school where I did nothing but listen to Depeche Mode. This song really takes you places and shows overall maturity for the band as artists. I can’t quite figure out what they’re doing here, but it’s such an intelligent sound. This track peaks your interest enough to make you want to flip over to Side-B and see what else they’ve got.

‘Forgetting the Sound of My Mind’ has a muted guitar and a tense sound that builds on itself. It’s not really a droning sound, it’s more like the sound emphasizes itself.

‘Death Trap’ sounds like what AFI wanted to be in the 90s. It’s not a song that sounds like AFI, or like it was influenced by AFI, but more like the kind of song that would have influenced them instead. Basically, it’s the sound AFI would have gone for if they were as smart musically as the Sonic Avenues are.

The final track ‘Defective’ has a really slow start and a really strong finish. A lot of bands are guilty of putting a weak slow track as the album closer, but this isn’t one of them. Don’t let the slow beginning trick you into skipping it over, the second half of the track is worth hearing.

While there are some songs I like more or less than others, I don’t think there’s a single throwaway track on this album. Everything is sort of a surprise, you’re never really expecting what comes next, but you also feel like you’re prepared for it when it comes. The transitions from track to track are perfect and the flow is beautiful. You have to listen to it all the way through, at least once, but more is always better!

My favourite description of this album in its entirety is my husband’s – “it’s like really good sex. It has this slow familiar thing to it. Then tension builds and it starts to get really intense and then it hits its peak and sort of lulls you out. It makes you wanna go back to the start and do it all over again. It leaves you wanting more.”

-Linsey McFadden