reviewed by Michael Thomas
I wondered why the debut EP from Sol hit me so hard and the answer eventually became clear: it’s like looking back on my high school and university years with a mixture of nostalgia and sadness. Though both are present, the time is never romanticized. There’s a real sense of clarity to everything.
Though the music of Bright & Early is most easily categorized as folk, there’s a good amount of weirdness to make this release stand out even more. The EP is bookended, for example, by the FitnessGram Pacer Test, which should instantly transport Canadians and Americans back to grade school. Sol also chooses to end the first two songs on the album right in the middle of a note or a sentence. As well, the title track of the EP is the least substantial song on the album—it’s under two minutes, is mostly just warm, picked guitar, and ends with the band members harmonizing on “oohs” only to rethink those harmonies.
The lyrics shift between the general and the specific. The opener “Ollie’s House” feels the most like it’s anchored in a specific time and place, with descriptions of listening to Frank Ocean and drinking PBR. “Bass Lines” starts off with very specific lyrics, first talking about brushing snow off a car and then about someone who used to call him names. The latter is okay because that person became one of his best friends. There’s also a lot of honesty in lines like “I wrote bass lines, they weren’t bad.”
“Hannah’s Room” is also a specific location, with the chorus saying “When I left I wish I could have told you that I missed you.” With a drive to “Santa Cruz,” we are soothed by a beautiful mix of keys and picked guitar.
We end with “Things That Didn’t Happen,” which features a chance meeting and subsequent reconnection at a party. Up until this point we’ve been in a haze of memories and dreams, before finally being snapped back to reality with, do you remember? The FitnessGram Pacer Test, of course.
Top Track: “Ollie’s House”
Rating: Proud Hoot (Really Good)