Self Defense Family

Duets EP

Written by: LF on 20/10/2014 14:30:05

Last time I encountered the indie post-punkers of Self Defense Family was with the release of the "You Are Beneath Her" EP, that featured vocalist Caroline Corrigan covering some older SDF songs on her own. This EP seemed like a weird mix of things to me, and the confusion was complete as it was simultaneously my first encounter with the "band". The thing is, Self Defense Family, who was previously known as End of a Year, is exactly a family of sorts. While their releases feature some members more often than others, they are a proper musical collective as they include what seems to be an uncertain number somewhere between 10 and 20 people in their roster. This "Duets" EP gives me exactly what I was searching for in vain on the earlier EP, namely actual duets between Corrigan and regular frontman Patrick Kindlon (who some might also know as the frontman in hardcore band Drug Church), in the form of five sweet and diverse songs.

What the songs of the EP revolve around is of course the dynamic between Corrigan and Kindlon's vocal styles that are certainly very different. A thing I absolutely adore about this EP is the way lyrics and melodies change character entirely when sung first by the one, then by the other in the next verse. The layered, melancholic tune that is "Been Passed On" especially proves this, as it has Kindlon set the tone with his energetic and almost raving singing style that borders on spoken word occasionally, before he lets Corrigan take over and her moody, melodic and way rounder voice gives entirely new life to the repeated lines of "They don't miss you for long". Kindlon's raving is most explicit in the ominous "Incoming Calls", that works the opposite way with Corrigan dominating in the beginning before Kindlon takes over completely with his slightly out of rhythm and slightly disharmonic approach.

"The Way Out Is Back" has some very Western-like twangs to its simple guitars, but it also has a different dynamic to it than the other songs, as it has the two vocalists singing a longer passage together, which sets yet another mood entirely than when they sing each on their own. The more straight forward indie punk song "Cancel Man" is the only song Corrigan gets for herself, and it is also the one that sticks most persistently to my brain. It has a memorable melody with comforting lyrics, making me shiver slightly as the world feels a little colder whenever it comes on. "Location Scout" has the same feeling and a similarly catchy chorus melody, while Kindlon gets some space to show off his more approachable side in his calm way of singing deeper notes.

This is an EP that has really been sneaking up on me. I did feel the need to mention all five songs of the EP in this review, because they all add texture to the release as a whole. Even though the songs might initially feel similar in mood and energy as they have these two strong vocalists dominating their sound, they do stand apart and feature different little twinkling details that you can keep returning to and investigate. As such, this is certain to stay on my playlist for the coming winter.

Download: Incoming Calls, Been Passed On, Cancel Man
For The Fans Of: Self Defense Family, Lemuria, Fugazi, Embrace
Listen: facebook.com/selfdefensefamily

Release date 30.09.2014
Iron Pier Records


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