[4 December 2012]
PopMatters Associate Music Editor
On Developer, Social Studies’ sound may come across as ethereal, even dreamy, but make no mistake, it’s a sound—and a set of beautifully textured, catchy tunes—that’s built on crystal clear elements. There’s the surgical edge from the guitars on “Away For the Weekend”, or their sweet glide on “Delicate Hands”, or the rise and fall of organs over a rock-solid rhythm section on “You Still Laughing”. At each moment, Social Studies exudes a rock-band swagger and muscle but with a keen eye for pop layers and an introspective, melancholy mood that never slips into navel gazing. At the center of the band’s thundering, expansive sound is the powerful, stunning voice of lead singer Natalia Rogovin. She’s rangy and sweet, but her voice is always rooted in a strong, foundational low end, something that keeps it from drifting out into space. It reaches without ever breaking free, and that tension drives Developer and puts these great rock songs over the top. It may occasionally bog down in mid-tempo in service to all these layers, but Developer rarely fails to impress and surprise. On their second album, Social Studies has made it clear: they’re making great music, and they’re here to stay.