Review: Saudade - I/O
Technology is a pretty wonderful thing. This band was already on the ever-increasing and horribly backlogged list of bands I hadn’t gotten a chance to listen to yet. When I say the word “backlog” it conjures up (in my mind, at least) an image of me hunched over a keyboard in a dimly lit room, crammed full of CD’s, obscure music magazines, and sheets of paper carelessly strewn about. And maybe a cat or something. Thankfully, technology has advanced to where “backlog” just means a folder on my laptop full of purchases from Bandcamp, a bookmarks bar full of my own favorite music blogs (shout out to Post-Engineering), and a text document with a bunch of copy & pasted links. Like I said, technology is pretty wonderful. And because it is, I/O were able to shoot me an email from Boston, Massachusetts, asking if I’d review their newest album Saudade. And I’m glad they did, because thankfully (once again) the album is pretty wonderful, too.
For those curious, like myself, about the title of the record… From Wikipedia:
“Saudade… describes a deep emotional state of nostalgic or profound melancholic longing for an absent something or someone that one loves. Moreover, it often carries a repressed knowledge that the object of longing may never return.”
Saudade starts off with “Lake House”. More of an introduction than a full track, the album really begins with “Twins”. Almost immediately, I/O’s sound on this track reminded me of Moonlit Sailor and their emo-influenced post-rock. This is a good thing. A sudden transitional key change at the end leads into “Input/Output”.
At almost nine and a half minutes, this is the longest track on the entire record. A somber solo guitar riff slowly builds into a fuzzy, reverb soaked giant with some really stellar work done on the bass guitar. (Yes, I’m a guitarist, and yes, I just complimented the bassist. Sue me.) Probably the most impressive feat I/O have accomplished with this song is that it sounds like one track, while managing to not become boring and repetitive. Songs of this length typically feel like two separate tracks forced together, but “Input/Output” comes off as a single cohesive piece of composition.
“Noise Floor” is a song that over the course of several listens to the album has grown into a surprise favorite of mine. A driving, punchy bass line gives off an almost post-punkish vibe that unfolds into an upbeat, shimmery, shoegazy wash of reverbed out melodies, before transitioning into the next track. “Beta Fish”, the next track, itself serves more as an intermission than a standalone track before fading out into “Anna”‘s mathy intro. A good representation of the rest of the track, the band sound tight playing completely clean, but there are some surprising, slightly heavier sections, which foreshadow what’s next.
As heavy as Saudade gets, I/O show their metal/post-hardcore leanings with my actual favorite track, “Warship”, that reminds me a little bit of Audrey Fall once it really gets going. Which may explain why both bands were featured on the Quiet/Calm Vol. 1 compilation. (Please Note: Don’t pay to download this compilation, as it was intended to be free.) The next track, “Weather Fields”, has easily the most intricate guitar melodies on the entire record, and I was genuinely impressed with them.
The album’s final track, “Bait & Switch”, ends with a reintroduction of the opening theme from “Lake House”, bringing Saudade to a close, and returns the listener back home to the beginning.
There are a lot of influences clearly present on this record, ranging from math rock to post-hardcore to shoegaze to pop to metal, and they all work together in a manner that manages to never turn the album into a jumbled mess. One or two small, but noticeable hiccups in the production do nothing to detract from the album’s overall strong quality. For a band so fresh out the door, I/O already have my attention. I’m looking forward to hearing what they do next.
Saudade is available digitally by naming your own price through their Bandcamp. There you can also (soon) find links to buy T-shirts and other goodies (for set prices). Proceeds from both will help fund a physical release. So buy a bunch of stickers and go all Shepard Fairey on your home town with some I/O swag.
You can check out all of the albums I’ve reviewed so far on The Big List o’ Reviews.