Naming their sophomore album Developer is a bold move for the still-young band Social Studies. But it is as apt a descriptor as you’re likely to find for how the sound of this San Francisco-based five-piece has flourished, matured, and, yes, developed over the past two years.
Following the release of their first album, Wind Up Wooden Heart in 2010, the band spent the better part of a year on the road, transfixing audiences at the CMJ Music Festival, SXSW, and Noise Pop, and bringing their unique energy and spirit to stages shared with tUnE-yArDs, Wye Oak, Lotus Plaza, Thee Oh Sees, Dodos, Dungen, and Au Revoir Simone just to name a few.
In early 2012, Social Studies returned to the studio with the goal of stripping things down to the basics, straightening out some of the more jagged lines of their previous work, and focusing more on texture and mood. They enlisted the able ears and hands of engineer and co-producer Eli Crews (tUnE-yArDs, Deerhoof, Thao & Mirah) who helped hone this new barebones attack as well as reflect the excitement of their live show. On Developer, all the pieces have come together perfectly.
The clear-eyed production helps bring out the dark, sexy heart of these ruminations on life, love, pain, and pleasure. The themes of the album are as complex as the songs are streamlined. Social Studies has succeeded in evoking a set of feelings and emotions that will linger with listeners long after the last notes have faded away. Warm, cold, or downright chilling, there is a connection between the personal and universal that the band taps into through a set of fearless, powerful and gripping songs.