Buzzard by Margot and the Nuclear So and So's
They met at a pet store in 2005 and began the best well-hidden gem of “chamber pop.” After the optimistic-pop junior album “Animal!” we may expect a turn towards maturity from Margot and the So and So’s senior album, “Buzzard,” which promises in-depth lyrics and hazy guitar solos.
The emotional origins of this CD place it in a soundtrack-type of genre. Lead singer Richard Edwards moved to a Ukrainian neighborhood in Chicago, watching movies in an abandoned theater and composing songs inspired by his feelings towards a film. He and band members Tyler Watkins and Erik Kang joined shortly afterwards to add a loud, almost imposing, spirit to the original compositions.
So came about “Buzzard,” an album recorded in the very movie theater that inspired its substance. The tone takes a marked step towards melancholy. Compared to their first 3 albums of folk melodies and stringy guitar, these compilations amplify Margot’s meekness. With heavier drums, stronger guitar, and a significantly added baseline, “Buzzard” seems to be a stepping-out point in the band’s 5-year career.
The contrast between sound and lyric attracts the most intrigue for me: the more I try to listen to the lyrics, the more the overpowering guitar gets in my way. The more I sit back to hear the song, the more I’m drawn to pay attention to the words. But it’s this double sweetness that makes the album as a whole all the more attractive—listening five times to one song in a row would be an understatement.
Edwards’ singing style is perhaps the most appealing aspect of the album. He is the intermediary of feeling: it is only through his voice and lyrics that listeners can understand a song.
He has a specialty of powerfully crooning, quickly breaking off into a scream, and then settling back into the beat of the song. In “New York City Hotel Blues,” Edwards tries to promise that he “won’t break your heart,” but there’s something in his voice that makes me think otherwise. Then the song turns palely quiet, and the lyrics go on to prove my suspicions. Conveying such emotion via song is difficult—almost impossible—but “Buzzard” has captured the essence of a mini-movie in each song.
The first song of the album, “Birds,” treads on thin ice in terms of plot line: listeners go through a sonic journey, from quiet to loud through slow crescendos and quick diminuendos. It starts off slowly, letting you pay attention to Edwards’ words. He’s questioning birds (metaphorical for people?) and asking “why would you need me?”
Then it quickens into high tonalities and big guitar, but the beat and fundamental guitar maintains the listen-ability of the song. As a leeway into the album, I think “Birds” does a good job of complementing the subsequent songs with an intro that covers the entire emotional and physical territory of the album in one piece. It ‘s a bit overwhelming, but definitely worth listening to if you want a picture of the whole CD.
Chord progressions saturate this album to achieve the effect of exposing the album’s diversity. According to the lead singer himself, the album is “with a rough around the edges, slightly drunken basement feel.”
The band is eagerly anticipating what listeners will interpret from this album—it is one of those make or break deals. They have enough talent and core followers to continue playing, but if this one CD could set them apart, then Margot could very well be the next great thing to happen to indie music.