How Sophomoric

Camus and catharsis on Hi, Technology
By SAM PFEIFLE  |  March 4, 2010

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Photo: Vision For Viewers
BRING IT ON: The Sophomore Beat launch their debut disc.

To paint with a broad brush, the Sophomore Beat's debut full-length, Hi, Technology, is that year of Dawson's Creek when Dawson went off to USC while Joey went to some indie college in Boston and there was a whole bunch of drama about who really loves whom and what's it all supposed to mean and, to quote "Hey Baby, I Went to College": "Do we suck or are we just young and stupid?"

Since I was accused for the first time this week of being "old," I'll feel secure in making reference to a syrupy show that came to its winsome conclusion just as Sophomore Beat frontman Daniel James (né Lohmeyer, of That's What She Said and Haven't Talked Since) was turning 18 and heading off into the world, and in commiserating that you've never felt so alone as that first night away at school where it hits you that no one knows, or really cares all that much, about where you are at that exact moment (this often happens to people on mushrooms, I've heard), and you've got to assume your girlfriend is banging some other guy, and even if she isn't, she'll probably be pissed you were making out with the girl down the hall. The feeling doesn't exactly engender self-confidence, and Hi, Technology is one of the more self-loathing collections of songs I've heard in some time.

No preening rock star, James peoples his brand of radio-friendly emo-rock with underdogs and the types who can't catch a break. Right from the album's open, he's "Chronically Wrong," which is muted in the beginning with trance-style digital beat before getting loud without ever quite letting loose.

Brief tangent: I found times throughout the album where it didn't quite feel loud enough, despite more than one chorus where James is singing with forehead-vein passion. Is it a good sign that I constantly found myself turning this record up? Could I just not feel it enough? Are they avoiding too much association with big radio rock sound, wanting to be a little more edgy/indie? Or is it just not the best mastering job by Thomas Deyesso at Masterwork Sound Studios, for whom I can only find one other credit online (a punk band called Mongrel)? I'm being serious when I say I'm not sure.

To resume: Songs here also include "And She Hates Me" and "I'll Blame you for the Rest of My Life" and any manner of searing disappointment where one questions, "Whatever happened to the way we thought we knew/That we conquer the world without even fucking trying?/I never planned on being alone and broke and crying."

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