S.O.S by Millencolin: An Album Review
Millencolin is a four piece skate rock band out of Örebro, Sweden. These guys have been consistently churning our punk rock bangers since the early 90s and have proven themselves as one of the defining acts to the skate rock genre. The name “Millencolin” is two-fold in its symbolism, relating to the word “Melancholy” as the skateboard trick to the actual definition of the word, a feeling of pensive sadness.
I honestly couldn’t describe the sound better than the band’s name itself. Internal concepts such as depression, inadequacy, drug-abuse and helplessness are prevalent within their lyrics. But with that also comes a biting critique of society’s failures and the frustration felt when observing such inequality. This is all wrapped up in a tight, energetic and cathartic release of pure punk bliss. So, what does Millencolin bring to the table with their 11th studio album S.O.S?
The album begins with its titular track SOS. Fast, punchy guitar riffs provide an excellent texture that gives the track a sense of incredible speed and movement. Accompanying the composition are these soaring swells of melancholic oohs and aahs. The vocal performance from lead singer and bassist, Nikola Saracevic, sits comfortably atop the mix providing a rebellious, angsty and energetic performance.
The technical skill and synchronicity of the band’s four performers continues on with another highlight off the album, the third track “Nothing.” The song explores ideas of loneliness and drug-abuse through the character study of a young man in a tumultuous time. By relying on drugs to feel emotion, the man eventually succumbs to a numbness towards himself and the world. Sarcevic’s vocals give the impression of a frustrated friend or family member who is unable to reach out to this young man and must painfully watch their slow decline into addiction.
As a counterpoint to the ceaseless wave of anxiety, confusion and decline, Millencolin provides a tenacious spirit and attitude that forces us to continue on and push through the noise. This can be heard in tracks like “Sour Days” and “Reach You,” where the main character has to grind the day-by-day and anxiously try to make a connection to the girl he has feelings for.
Tracks like “Dramatic Planet” and “Caveman’s Land” give a lesson to the ridiculous history of so-called “civilized” society. The band delves into the longstanding attitudes of ignorance and xenophobia that have become deep-seated within culture over time. Likewise, they reveal the difficulties faced when one challenges these preconceived notions.
The closing track, “Carry On,” serves as a bittersweet call to arms, revealing the necessity for one to push forward despite shortcomings seen in society and themselves.
Millencolin’s cohesive sound is detailed with incredible nuance. Mathias Farm and Erik Ohlsson’s guitar performances are able to punctuate drummer Fredrik Larzon’s dizzyingly fast beats effortlessly. The band never sounds sloppy, like a well-oiled locomotive they ceaselessly charge forward with no surrender in sight.
Sitting at only 35 minutes, SOS is a tight, cohesive punk rock romp with all the fat trimmed. This one definitely has my recommendation, see you in the pit.