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Sons and Daughters
The Repulsion Box
by Ashley Graham

First introduced to Sons and Daughters last October when they opened for Clinic, their mix of rock and punk and country music was nothing I’d ever heard before and I was an instant fan. The live show was something not to be missed; four individuals born to the stage, giving powerful, emotional, driven performances that lingered in your mind for days. Their debut EP
Love the Cup wouldn’t leave the stereo for weeks, despite the fact that it only contains six tracks, simply because each of the tracks on the album are equally mindblowing and listening on repeat is never an inconvenience, only a delight.

When presented with their debut full-length,
The Repulsion Box, my first listen wasn’t what I had expected. Instead of that thick, rich music I’d grown accustomed to on Cup, I was caught off guard by simplistic vocals and cleaner versions of characteristic Sons and Daughters instrumental ruckus. At first listen, it wasn’t taking hold. But luckily for me, repeat listens proved first impressions wrong.

The Repulsion Box is ten tracks that will knock you on your ass. Expect the pop of bands like Franz Ferdinand, Sons and Daughters’ Scottish neighbors and friends, and you’ll get ever so much more than you bargained for.  Lead singer Adele Bethel’s vocals are at the forefront of this recording, where they weren’t previously. Guitarist Scott Paterson makes fewer vocal contributions but when he does they stand out. Track eight, “Rama Lama,” which Paterson leads, is a frighteningly eerie song filled with dark imagery brought to life by Paterson’s voice on lines like “Click Click Click go the heels of his feet” and “Drip Drip Drip goes the tap on her ankles” and Bethel’s contribution “Then he hung her out to dry.” Album opener “Medicine” gets things going with a beat that just won’t stop and “Royally Used,” near the end, keeps the excitement thriving with handclaps and that same incessant rhythm, which may very well be the glue that holds this album together.

These songs aren’t cheerful, in fact they cover topics of death and violence, among others, and the vocalists that sing them are often angry, but somehow overall you’re left with the impression that dancing would be a proper response. There might be no explanation for that other than that it is simply the charm of this four piece. Highlights on the album include “Rama Lama,” “Medicine” and “Dance Me In” (the album’s first single), among others.

The Repulsion Box
represents Sons and Daughters as a live act, and if you dig this, which you no doubt will, you’ll dig them on stage. The band is now touring throughout Europe and will return to the U.S. this fall when they’ll begin their tour with The Decemberists. The Repulsion Box is out August 8 on Domino.