[29 January 2008]
soso’s own press material says that he falls into the genre of “avant-garde hip hop/alt rap”. Listening to his latest album, Tinfoil on the Windows, one would likely suspect that the primary reason these labels apply to him is that spoken word artists just don’t sell as well as hip-hop artists. On Tinfoil on the Windows, soso offers poetry, offset by stretches where he sings refrains in a strained, broken, awkwardly high tenor. A fellow who goes by the name of Maybe Smith offers lush backdrops with pianos, guitars, and lots of atmospheric noises and washes of sound. There’s no doubt that soso believes in his art, that he puts his entire soul into it, and that’s great, that’s wonderful, actually; unfortunately, it’s just very hard to enjoy something so self-conscious, so utterly, deadly serious, and so pointlessly artsy. Even when soso lets loose with an absurd line like “I know that local hero shit is wack” (as he does on “Company of Chairs”), he does it with such a self-aware gravity that it loses the shock of its surface silliness. soso’s hometown of Saskatoon sounds like a bleak, lonely place, and that’s probably the point, but the mere fact that he gets that point across isn’t enough to revisit the argument any more than absolutely necessary.