‘Soapbox Army’ is sort of an enigma in the New York City indie rock scene. This doesn’t have as much to do with any mysterious nature. ‘Soapbox Army’ is not that kind of group, and the members are clearly labeled- Dan Tucker plays guitar and sings the songs, Pheroze Karai plays lead, Bill McBreen bears the bass, and Simon Fishburn is our drummer rounding out the foursome.
So without the mystery aspect, what type of enigma are they?
Let’s start like this- an enigma can be a mysterious and odd person. Considering the tight unity of ‘Soapbox Army’ and the unity of quality bands, a band can be considered a single entity- an enigma.
What make the group so confounding and puzzling is their uniformity and the absolute raw tightness of their sound. Their sophomore full-length album ‘Reactor’ is sophisticated but relentless, teetering between absolute loss and chaos and the fine-tuned production of a meticulous quilt worker.
It essentially sums up all of life.
Of course, it is probably wise we slow down, because music is only music and never will be more than music- I think. But this is where the enigma aspect arises- when is music more than music, and why does ‘Soapbox Army’ sound so damn good at being great?
Listen closely. You can hear it. The tracks on ‘Reactor’ are more than just neat little rock jams. Sure, they channel rock and roll anthems of classic rock energy with the modern appeal of punk and folk rock. They touch on certain lyrical ideas, adding just enough vagueness to be interesting without being overtly and perhaps annoyingly metaphorical.
‘100 Times’ is a chaotic romp, a sort of anarchic roil through vicious drumming and impeccable lead guitar work. The album opens with the most energizing lead-in for an album of recent memory. If any album set a tone in its first moments, it is ‘Reactor’ and the track ‘Hurtling Towards the Sun;’ it’s instantly memorable and ear-catching. What an opening!
The enigma aspect rises again. When a band can do the tense chaotic rock pieces as well as they do the drama-infused balladry? ‘My Oh My’ is gorgeous, not overstaying its welcome and leaving a resonating impression long after its close.
‘Soapbox Army’ is a class act. They use the idea of an enigma to remain polarizing, sensational, perturbing, all in a single collection of 9 tightly-made (while also sprawling) rock epics. With a nice touch of electronics, and some high class vocal work, ‘Soapbox Army’ swoons and attracts and never ever let go.