Canadian husband and wife duo Social Potion are an unusual band. They’ve shirked the traditional several member set-up and gone instead for a much more intimate arrangement. Aided perhaps by their marital status, the band exudes a heartfelt optimism that is itself peppered with an underlying sincerity usually associated to a more stripped down aesthetic. Indeed, for a duo, the pair maintain an impressively full sound, with guitar and vocal duties falling to Carmen Toth while husband Aaron Jones takes care of the drums and keys predominantly.
Though the band consider themselves to be ‘alt-pop’, that to me is just a catch all term that simplifies all the things that Social Potion are doing. Though the band are shrouded in a pop veneer, upheld impressively by Toth’s sugary vocal talents, there’s far more to it than that. ‘Minishka’, for example, is somewhat evocative of a more accessible Amanda Palmer if in nothing but the off kilter melody of the verses.
Conversely ‘Come Out and See Me’ shows a rougher quality to Toth’s vocal not shown in other tracks. The instrumentation in this track is also somewhat different to the rest of those featured on their self-titled début EP. Perhaps the best example, or at least a personal favourite, is the first track from that EP, ‘Drive Myself Home’. A Mountain Goats inspired guitar forms the backbone of this track, endearing me instantly, while the flesh comes in the form of some fantastic vocal harmonising and layering which provides textures aplenty.
Social Potion aren’t a band who are out to break boundaries, their music is catchy, it’s accessible and it’s Summery. It doesn’t need to have a political message or a dissident nature to appeal because the appeal lies within the quirks and the nuances of both Toth and Jones alike. There’s a certain degree of nostalgia about it too, a back to basics approach that can be exhibited in the band’s reliance on the coupling of guitar and vocal harmonies; it isn’t that it’s musically primitive, far from it. It’s just that more often than the simplest of structures can create the most impressive music which is precisely what’s happened with Social Potion, instead of hiding behind a façade, the duo have embraced their pop persona, let it run riot and are just about having fun with their music.
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