The duo-as-band phenomenon has become par for the course since the turn of the millennium. However, don't let that put you off Canadian two-piece Solids. Their ethos sits on the side of experimental noise acts like No Age or Japandroids than the more traditional sounds of The White Stripes and Royal Blood. And as a result, they're a far more exciting prospect for it.
Hailing from Montreal, the duo - guitarist-cum-vocalist Xavier Germain-Poitras and drummer Louis Guillemette - aren't exactly newcomers as such, having cut their teeth in various hardcore bands prior to forming Solids in 2009. Nevertheless, having put out a handful of singles and EPs since their conception, it was 2014's debut long player Blame Confusion that brought them to the attention of a wider audience. Fusing the slacker rock stylings of Dinosaur Jr and Swervedriver with the experimental punk of Unwound and sporadic noise bursts of No Age, it provided a welcome breath of fresh air whilst placing its creators on the map.
Two years may have passed since Blame Confusion rocked the foundations but their latest offering is no less eminent in its delivery or execution. Recorded late last year at the end of a relentless touring schedule that took in over 200 gigs in 18 months, Else shows four different dimensions to Solids' increasingly diverse make-up.
Opener 'Blank Stare' ticks all the boxes set by its predecessor two years ago, but there's a feeling Solids want to try and cram as much into its four minutes as possible. So alongside the slacker posturing and grunge inspired overtones there's also elements of post-rock, lo-fi punk and shoegaze in the mix for good measure.
'Wait It Out' sees them in a more reflective mood, choosing the melancholic route to convey their message. It's on the effervescent 'Blurs' where Solids really come into their own. Direct and visceral in parts, introverted and cautious in others, one suspects its creators may have been listening to both Slint and The Melvins during those arduous tours as this bears all the hallmarks of a collaboration between the two (as incredible as that sounds).
Meanwhile, closing number 'Shine' takes its inspiration from The Beatles' 'Tomorrow Never Knows' by borrowing the rhythmic structure from arguably John Lennon's pièce de résistance. Adding their own deconstructed guitar sound and noise segments to create an ethereal soundscape of sorts, it offers a hint towards the direction Solids second album might be heading.
Being more accustomed to playing live than writing and recording, Solids are still discovering their sound and true identity. While Else doesn't provide the answer just yet, it does suggest they're having a whale of a time getting there.
7Dom Gourlay's Score