Soeur / Hare and Hounds, Birmingham / 30th of November

Soeur / Hare and Hounds, Birmingham / 30th of November

Soeur brought their own specific brand of poppy grunge to Hare and Hounds last night, playing a short but sweet set, that left the crowd waiting for a little bit more. The band raced through their set list, announcing their last song just as the audience started loosening up. But with songs that pack a lot of punch in a short space of time, Soeur were able to show off everything they had.

Support came from local band Mutes, another grunge-influenced band with pop-based sensibilities. They engaged with the crowd quickly and started off the night with lo-fi sounds mixed with a flamboyant stage presence, setting the stage for more contrasting styles from Soeur. The Bristol-based three-piece mentioned they had just recorded a session at Maida Vale studios, and it’s clear that this is a band possibly on the brink of bigger things. Their live act gives the feeling that there’s something more to come, and the band are controlled and precise in their playing, letting the raw sounds they make contrast with the slick performances.

Soeur are a band of contrasts, and they know how to build tension in a song, holding back until it’s time to let go; with standout highlights being the exciting climax of singles No Fire and Pass Out. The songs start off sweet and delicate before climbing into loud, grungy choruses, and energised the crowd enough that a mini mosh pit started in the intimate Venue 2 of Hare and Hounds. The band strip their sound back to the basics, with drummer, James Collins, providing composed and quick beats that never let up throughout the set, but always remained consistently precise. The sound still remained quite raw and grungy despite the controlled beats alongside slick and sharp guitar riffs. They say they write pop songs with a grunge-heavy sound, and this can be heard not just in the lyrics, but in the vocals of the two frontwomen, Anya Pulver and Tina Maynard.

The vocals were the highlight of the show, even though slight technical problems meant Maynard’s soft voice was occasionally not picked up by her mic. Pulver and Maynard bring another contrast to the band with their opposing vocal styles. Maynard’s voice has light and airy qualities, while Pulver’s is deeper and emphasises the raw edge in their songs. The vocals stand out especially when the two sing together, at times varying between harmonies, duets and even singing in rounds.

The track Slow Days shows off their vocal pairing, and was my favourite song of the night. All of the elements Soeur are inspired by can be found in the track, and their live performance added to the atmospheric feel of the song. Pulver and Maynard’s vocals combine to create an almost folky sound, and their harmonies provide an exciting layer to the stripped back grunge they play. Come to see a great British rock band, but stay to hear them bring something unique to a classic sound.

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