Published Nov 25, 2015Although SOPHIE, aka Samuel Long, first drew attention in 2013 for "Nothing More to Say," it was the undeniable plastic pop of "Bipp" that really established his sound and made him one of the most sought-after producers of the last few years. His aesthetic, which loosely reflects that of his pals on PC Music, is as vinyl-smooth as that label's pop confections, but harbours a latent darkness, too; there's something threatening about the manic energy of SOPHIE's music, and it adds a layer of intrigue to the songs on Product.
Less an album than a collection of SOPHIE's singles over the past three years, Product — available as a download, CD, 4x12-inch or as a menacing black sex toy referred to harmlessly as a "silicon product" — provides an all-in-one-place glimpse of an artist whose flirtation with Top 40 (he's produced for Madonna, Charli XCX and Le1f) is tempered by an unshakeable feeling that he's critiquing pop as much as paying tribute to it. The previously released "Lemonade" is punctuated by a sweet, computer-perfected chorus that professes that, "When I'm with you, everything's okay," but it stands in stark contrast to the sputtering, off-kilter verses of the song; its B-side is as "Hard" as its title, slamming metal one moment and sprinkling fairy dust the next.
The new tracks add slightly new dimensions to these sounds: "MSMSMSM" is an insistent club banger, not unlike "Hard"; "Vyzee" features the same singer as "Bipp"; "L.O.V.E.," maybe the weakest track here, sounds like a kettle boiling "Lemonade" until it's burning-hot steam. The crowning achievement is the anthemic "Just Like We Never Said Goodbye," which features SOPHIE's catchiest melody to date over sparse production.
The slow roll-out of singles over the past few months leading up to its release makes Product hard to consider as a singular cohesive package, but as a primer on SOPHIE, it's as good as it gets, a snapshot of an exciting artist whose tightrope walk between sweet and scary, pop and avant-garde, has yielded some of the best singles of the past few years. (Numbers)