Chicago duo SNST has spent a minute reintroducing themselves with a new sound and a new lineup of sorts. Now with singer Sonja Rae, she and hubby Chris Broach have reformed the project, and it’s a welcomed change. While the original incarnation of the group had a sound that never landed on one place, this new version has a sound that’s witchy and engaging. With the balance between the two on vocals, their new album It’s Hard to Be Loved by You plays out like an amalgamation of electronica both old and new, while delving into sounds no one has used in such a manner prior to its release.
The opening song “It’s Hard to Be Loved (By You)” uses a dark pulsating beat with these harmonic synths that play between the notes and the vocals. The innocence between how the vocals sound and the orchestral keys that chime in offer what you wished more electronic music would sound like. There’s more here than just the simple songwriting that much of the genre is flanked with. This is something though that continues throughout the release. “Heart Will Fail You” has these droning synths that feel like a darker darkwave sound before the vocals come in and uplift the song to a higher space. “Solid Ground” begins with guitar noodling and Chris takes the lead on vocals with Sonja adding backing notes. There’s a balance between the two that lends itself to something more intriguing than if one was always singing. It works and works well.
But while these tracks offer plenty of new tones, there are songs that cultivate what electronica can be without stepping on any toes. “Chaos Is Meant to Be” is presented with yins and yangs in tone, “Worth It” dances in with these dreamy notes that get met with drums and synths that sound like they’re coming from the depths of earth. There’s just a lot happening on the album, yet it’s all working in tandem with one another. Production wise the songs are structured in a way that you rarely hear. There’s a large sonic palette here that sounds like it’s never been explored. The favorite from multiple listens came on “Be Afraid.” There’s something about how the synths and live drums mix underneath the vocals here that keeps your attention. The song has less movements than others, but that simplicity works and keeps it in your head well after it plays out. The dual vocals from both members offers something fresh, while the hooks seem to just draw you closer and closer. The whole album proves that change is a good thing, especially if it’s done as well as it’s orchestrated here.
The album is available on a limited run vinyl directly from Bandcamp. It’s also ready to purchase in all digital storefronts or to stream on all streaming sites.
Image Credits: Photo Courtesy of Artist.