Don't look at what label these guys are on. No. Seriously... OK, it's too late. Although I knew that South was anything from a typical Mo Wax offering (more rock, less bop), I still wasn't prepared the amount of Oasis-ness that the group exuded. While some might think that's a good thing, and other take terrible offense at even the mention of the enfant terribles otherwise known as the Gallagher brothers, let me explain myself a little further.
South is a trio of musicians that play melodic British rock music with a touch of atmospherics and a few rocking moments. By some weird twist of fate (expansion of their genre base perhaps), their album was co-released on labels who are known for their trance and downtempo music respectively. They definitely have some hummable hooks, and at moments the album feels like it's going to shake off the reigns of running the middle-ground, but just about the time you think things are going to bust loose like a rocking Monk and Cantella track, they swerve back into more agreeable sounds.
The album actually opens and closes with two different versions of the track "Broken Head," and while neither one gets completely crazy with the cheeze whiz, both of them roll along with a thick groove, some wicked drums, and a snakey keyboard that entrances like a snake charmer flute. Right after the track is over (at the beginning of the disc), the group drops off into "Paint The Silence," and as mentioned above, it's a very nice track. An acoustic guitar takes the lead while a thick bassline rolls in the background and the track drifts heavily into Stone Roses territory.
It's on the third track "Keep Close," though that the Oasis reference makes itself pretty clear. Again, the track is well-constructed and darn if I don't want to sing along with it, but by the time the chorus rolls around, I half expected the words to be "Don't Look Back In Anger." The strange thing is that the instrumental tracks are the ones that are much more exciting instrumentally. "All In For Nothing (reprise)" again mixes some nice drumming and swirling keyboards with nice guitarwork while the end of "Sight Of Me" breaks out into one of the most raucous moments on the entire disc, with pummeling drums and a rhythm section that works all kinds of magic.
For the most part, tracks on the disc fall into two distinct categories, which is quieter, safer moments with vocals, and instrumental tracks that buck the trend and mix it up a bit. The one track in which the group really pulls the two different elements together is on "All In For Nothing," in which they mix the thick keyboards, heavier drumming, and vocals for one of the more interesting tracks on the release. In all, it's a decent debut, but when the majority of the release falls into the more bland category (and the disc runs almost 70 minutes long), it makes me long for a bit more variety.