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"Southern EP"

Southern – Southern EP
30 December 2013, 09:30 Written by Steve Lampiris

The debut EP by Southern would have you believe that not all sugary pop music needs to be coated in EDM in 2013. In fact, the Southern EP exists in a world where guitar is the de facto instrument for pop music. From the restrained stomp to the rhythm section to the blissfully adorable twee throughout, the songwriting on this four-song set feels natural almost by default.

This extends all the way down to the brother-sister duo that fronts the group. Thom and Lucy Southern trade vocals, but what’s notable is when they harmonize – upon first listen, their voices appear diametrically opposed. Thom has a nervous liveliness to his voice, whereas Lucy exudes cool and sultry sun-kissed warmth. The reason it works, though, is because the music’s the same way.

“World Don’t Shine,” for example, opens as a strutting acoustic number with lines like “I don’t need a today,” but turns anxious and spacey during the bridge which gives the duo’s harmony an ethereal quality. Elsewhere, the Skittles-sweet chorus of “Cool Kid” is paired with slightly melancholic words. “I don’t wanna go back there/Please, don’t make me go back there,” Thom pleads. “You’re such a cool kid, lost and found/I should dedicate this one to you.” Even the swamp-drenched boogie of “Shout It,” an utterly danceable number with all the anxious energy of a band’s first live performance, finds the duo opening the EP with some rather defiant words: “Nobody’s gonna take my name/and nobody’s gonna take me to yesterday.”

With all the dichotomy present, the one complaint, then, is the fact that there isn’t more experimentation on this EP. While all four songs demonstrate near-expertise in pop structure, only one suggests something more. It’s this side of the band that should be shown off. It’d be great to see this songwriting duo play a tad fast and loose with southern-fried guitar pop on its next outing. Until then, we do still have a fine set of songs to enjoy here.

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