EP REVIEW: SOCKING DINNERS BY SOFT JOCKS
A loving reflection of all the best bits from pop-punk, garage rock, and post-punk revival, Socking Dinners is one of the most fun EPs to come out in a very long time.
Self-described ‘bubblegum punk’ outfit Soft Jocks are perhaps one of the most endearing set of faces in the Leeds DIY scene. I’ve had the pleasure of seeing them a few times now and in fact, the first review I ever did was a review of a gig they played so they’ll always have a special place in my heart. Genuinely, I don’t think I’ve ever had an experience with Soft Jocks, whether that be seeing them live, listening to a recording, or even just chatting about them, that hasn’t left me feeling immense amounts of joy. They are dopamine in a band and their debut EP just continues that trend.
Tracks like “Cookin’ My Own Ass” are true examples of this joy as the driving drums along with the bright bass poking out of the mix enter your ears and fill your body with youthful energy. Similarly, closer “Woodlouse” features many of those same emotions and garage rock fuzzy production style. The lighthearted take on a kafkaesque tale of swapping bodies with a woodlouse is one of the most engaging narratives on the album and has an almost Parquet Courts-like prechorus that lifts your whole mood.
Out of all the tracks on the five track EP though, the penultimate track “Sittin’ One Out,” is easily the most memorable. I think you’d be hard-pressed to find anyone who wouldn’t be humming the intro bassline after listening to this tune even just once. Bouncy, catchy and groovy, the tune knows exactly where it’s meant to be played as sounds of a bubbling party come in halfway through. I do wish, though, that this track stayed more focused as it gets too stuck into its groove and carries on for just a bit too long. In contrast to all the other tunes which are punchy and short, each under three minutes, “Sittin’ One Out” runs for just over four minutes with little change over the final minute and a half. There are hints at a ripping guitar solo but mixed in such a way that it just blends in with the repetitive rhythm section, ultimately feeling like another texture in the background. Perhaps the only blemish on the entire project, it doesn’t detract from the memory of the first half of the song, but it certainly does make you impatient for the next tune to roll around.
While “Sittin’ One Out” might be the most memorable, the most charming has to be “I<3NYC”. A tongue-in-cheek ode to the city that never sleeps that just edges on silliness, the track is filled with doo-wop backing vocals, light pianos and a lilting vocal performance all mashed together with a chorus styled fittingly after the Ramones. Still retaining much of the energy and scuzzy production, it is just different enough to feel like a stylistic breath of fresh air. I <3 this swanging track almost as much as the Jocks <3 NYC.
It would be unfair of me, however, to portray this EP as just perpetual good vibes when on tracks like the opener “Spouting Off,” we can hear a relatable bitterness. A short, punchy track capturing what it feels like being trapped in a conversation with someone who can’t shut up, “Spouting Off” throws rapid, relentless drumming and purposefully driving bass parts at you until you are charged with the same ferocity that the track has in spades. Similarly relatable, “Fuck That Dude” explores the feelings of loneliness that springs up when the one you love isn’t around and the only guy around is the last dude you want to see. Even though I hate the sound of my own voice, I couldn’t help singing along to every verse and every chorus and I can’t wait to be able to do it in a room filled with people at the next Soft Jocks gig. Plus, not only is the track tender and snarky at the same time, its got a satisfyingly classic solo that I have a hard time not loving. It’s true that Soft Jocks aren’t reinventing the wheel or doing anything terribly new on Socking Dinners but they just don’t need to. They have mastered what they do and what they do is make me really happy. Hopefully, you check this record out and see how much pure joy can come through just a few punks in a studio!
The Jocks in order of softness
Writing by Varun Govil
If you want more Soft Jocks content (you can never have enough) you can watch the lyric video to “Woodlouse” by @lady_saliva that premiered on DRAB in our fourth Weekly Digest x