“Before, we were rebellious. We fucked with things just because we wanted to push limits and boundaries,” said Social Studies frontlady Natalia Rogovin of 2010’s collection of synth-pop songs, Wind Up Wooden Heart. “Developer is a more adult record. We tried to explore sounds and draw out parts to write more moving and focused songs.” And the sophomore effort from this San Francisco-based five-piece is just what its title suggests: a development from the band’s debut that boasts a more mature sound, thanks in part to producer Eli Crews (tUnE-yArDs) who separated everything a bit: Rogovin’s vocals spring forward, the synths dull down, and the guitar demands its moments.
All the moving parts entwine best on “Away For The Weekend”, a poppy track whose melodrama attaches to Rogovin’s Florence Welch-like vocals to unveil a track that sounds like it could be an early, long-lost Flo bootleg. Album closer “Paint”, which, with its unique trajectory, is an obvious standout and smart way to round out the record. But these are stellar moments among an album that has a tendency to feel too static. While single “Terracur” snaps its fingers with some Adele sass, “Still Life” follows, beginning a lull in the album’s center where the songs run together. Allowing a male vocal cameo, a la Wind Up Wooden Heart’s ”The Good Book”, could have sanctioned a bit more diversity.
Developer most likely isn’t the sophomore album that propels the group to the forefront of its genre, but that’s not to say the band’s process of evolution halts here.
Essential Tracks: “Away For The Weekend”, “Paint”