Those Men – Sobgod

By Christopher J. Oatis.

You ever had that friend who had to blow his entire paycheck at the CD store? This kind of person also tries to find time to listen to all six CDs he or she just purchased on the half hour ride home, which gives each track about twenty seconds to shine before the track skip button gets pounded, and it does not give the music the attention it deserves.

Sobgod by Those Men is the type of album you’re going to want to be the only thing in your bag when you leave the CD store. There is much to appreciate and every song should be considered a new journey. Familiar threads comparable to The Moody BluesThe Beatles, and The Cure are woven with many sounds you’ve never heard before but will be glad to experience.Sobgod does not allow the listener to rest; it keeps moving and once one song ends another will take off in a new direction. Listen with attention or these tracks might set off without you.

An eerie musical undertone lures the listener into the album as “Secondary Spirit” begins, but a much more powerful musical crescendo is waiting around the corner with a powerful refrain. Anyone with an itchy fast-forward finger would do well to wait this one out. This track’s humble beginning is nothing more than a haunting background beat, which the song’s true spirit will rise from.

Sobgod is full of moments that would thwart the overly casual listener. “Seven Lies Leaving” begins with a musical backdrop that may seem only fitting to fill a soundtrack of an old Nintendo Game. Then as if you hit a warp zone, the song shifts to strong “Oh”s and “Ah”s harmonized into a full sound that is chased by a catchy refrain. With ballad like breaks and great vocals, by the end of the song the listener will be singing along with this one and maybe even humming that video game beat.

“Golden Love” is another fine example. Its simple vocal and nice little beat may lull the listener into a false sense of security, but even this song has its subtle surprises. Guitars breaks and vocal overlays make this song anything but ordinary. This song transcends any “standard” pop-prog labels that one would dare place on it. “oh, Oh, OH! Golden Love.”

Those Men have a unique way of using a pop sound without losing their individuality. Early on, the listener will discover “Tree,” a face paced, well sung song, with just the right pinch of artificial beats to keep this one interesting. “Kate in the Compass” completely defines Those Men’s ability to redefine pop. If you don’t fall in love with this one after the first few plucks of catchy guitar then they will have you at the dueling high-low vocals in the refrain. “Marsupial Daddy,” should place Beatles fans in a comfortable place. This track floats through the ears like soft pink soap bubbles and rings true somewhere between “Lucy in The Sky with Diamonds”, “Strawberry Fields,” “Octopus’s Garden,” and of course a new dash of Those Men.

This album like most of its songs can not be defined by one thing. It is a plethora of sounds. “Persona Dolls,” exemplifies this. An echoing refrain supported by soaring guitars give this one an amazingly full sound. This song is the type of track you want mid-album to keep a listener curious about what’s coming next.

What comes next, without a break, without a warning, is “Two Tall Trumpets”. “Two Tall Trumpets” says it all. The song is about “Two Tall Trumpets,” a man who finds “Two Tall Trumpets” to be precise. A little bit of string plucking tip-toes the listener through this quest about “Two Tall Trumpets,” and helps him or her forget that he or she might not care about “Two Tall Trumpets.” I could go either way on this one; something about it is hypnotic, but more often than not I’m just glad that “Kate in the Compass” is next.

Overall, “Two Tall Trumpets” is a part of greater piece. It is the diversity that makes this album a work of art. Songs like “Lady’s Man” introduces a different edgy sound that is not heard elsewhere on the album. “SobGod,” the title track, comes at the listener with a unique piano intro where heavy fingers strike the keys like hard sighs. A minute and a half later it’s another Those Mencurve ball flying over the plate as the tempo goes haywire and then returns to the somber tone only to be interrupted by heavy guitars ninety seconds later. This one is a Those Men rollercoaster that doesn’t disappoint.

While it was hard to find complaints about this album, “Wollical Eye” and “Disable the Water,” tend to fall under the category of “throw away tracks”. Both are lyrically interesting but tend to drown musically. When an album is this musically diverse anything even remotely repetitive will find it hard to tread water in comparison, and unfortunately, these two songs do not keep their head above water.

“Time on the Scale of One to Four,” the album’s finale, seems a bit weak as a stand alone track, but it is a perfect send off in the confines of the album. In short, this piece is a great closer, but I would never place it on a mix CD.

Regardless, I recommend Those Men’s Sobgod to anyone willing to give each track the attention it deserves. This one is not for the casual listener or one with an itchy fast-forward button, and four CDs to check out that day. So, clear an hour of your week before sitting down to this one. It deserves a full listen all the way through.