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Antenna Farm Records has gone and released Wind Up Wooden Heart, the long-awaited debut album from San Francisco’s Social Studies. WUWH is a study in contradictions, a balance of twee-leaning danceable pop and bold, progressive song structures that eschew verse/chorus/verse boundaries; in short, it is a perfect representation of Social Studies and stands as one of the breakthrough debut albums of 2010. With several US tours and a self released EP under their belt, the band turned their attention to producing a full-length release that would balance the intricacy of their songs with the intensity of their high-energy live show. In between sharing stages with the likes of The Pipettes, The Long Blondes and Handsome Furs, the band spent much of 2009 recording and producing a full-length that pushed their lovably eccentric songwriting skills to new heights.
The result, Wind Up Wooden Heart, tempers the experimental lines of the Deerhoof with a love of unadulterated pop songwriting and heightens the arching melodies of Beach House with dramatic twists and turns. With consistently catchy melodies, Natalia’s enchanting voice, and special guest appearances by members of Bright Eyes, Dreamdate, and Thee More Shallows, Social Studies have crafted an album that’s equally infectious and innovative.
In ten tracks the band constructs a prophetic future that upon closer look is crumbling with nostalgia and regret. And as if to mirror the contradictory themes of violence, discontent, camaraderie, and renewal that run through the album, the songs themselves balance catchy and danceable melodies with sinewy structures and complicated turns. Wind Up Wooden Heart is pop music fully realized for a modern era, and it’s a debut LP that begs to be talked about, sung along to, and played on repeat. It announces Social Studies as a band ready to break out into the national consciousness. [ioda]