Rejoice! Exclamation mark loving Primo! are back! ‘Sogni’ is the follow up to 2018’s brilliant and understated ‘Amici‘.
The band now consists of four members, having added bassist Amy Hill. They’ve taken the opportunity to broaden their sound whilst retaining the laid-back deadpan approach that was so appealing on their debut.
Opening with Things To Do, there remains a hint of Welsh post- punks Young Marble Giants in the slow building minimalism. Introduced by two repeating crunchy guitar notes, before the vocals and lead guitar mimic each other, it’s rounded out by simple bass notes and atmospheric synths. It’s not your typical straightforward Primo! song, hinting towards some of the explorations to come.
This allows Perfect Paper to really cut through with its catchy retro Velvet Underground rock n’ roll.
Complete with great backing vocals, wobbly buzzing synths and distant horn squeals.
Machine builds on this momentum with a perfect simplicity. As on their debut, we’re treated to a ramshackle Raincoats-esque cracker.
Hill provides a simple driving bassline to accompany the great lo-fi guitar chords on Best and Fairest. The reverb on the vocals offers a softness to contrast the chugging, as does the wispy synth in chorus. There are some really great instrumental sections, with chords that sound almost spontaneous, and psychy fuzzed out guitar lines.
There are some really lovely keyboard touches on this record, none more so than the cascading line on Comedy Show.
It also incorporates a distant sax to contribute to a moody atmosphere. The lyrically nostalgic Love Days is a nod to Jonathan Richman, with the Roadrunner style buzzing guitar and drum phrasing in the verses. Percussive variation (by way of shakers) adds to the driving momentum, which is broken up by a fun instrumental middle eight complete with weird and wonderful synth sounds. This highlights the great sense of humour behind the deadpan delivery of these songs.
1000 Words is probably the closest moment on ‘Sogni’ to sounding like Terry (of whom Xanthe Waite and Hill are, of course, both members). It’s bouncy upbeat fun with a surprise skronky ending, and acts as the point from which the band really start to mix things up.
Rolling Stone indulges in staccato guitar stabs and spacious synth. The guitar chords, married with the vocal harmonies, give it an almost medieval feel. It’s still very much pulled off in Primo! style, with a strange phrasing to the vocal melody. As it progresses it collects synths, horns and xylophone on the way to a hypnotic ending. It’s probably the most sophisticated composition on ‘Sogni’, certainly up until this point.
The following three tracks, for the most part, stick to the tried and tested formula yet still manage to offer up something unique. Diamond Days has playful percussion, an incredible guitar sound that we can only describe as sounding half broken, and some surprising, luscious strings right at the end.
The punky Present has a great chorus, simple guitar line and gentle organ sound before what sounds like an icy drink being stirred.
An icy drink being stirred… in a way, that feels like a fitting metaphor for the band.
They continue to play with new sounds on Up In The Air. This time adding a psychedelic tremolo to the chorus vocals and some great 60s backing vocals.
To cap things off Primo! save the best for last. Reveri” is slow, spacious and subtle. In the way the synths and samples sit so majestically it has an almost ‘Smile’ era Beach Boys quality. The effect of this accompanied by the simple strumming guitar and vocals is gorgeous, along with the drums which only enter by way of shimmering cymbals towards the end.
It really is an unexpected and beautiful ending.
For all the new touches there’s still the same immediacy. It feels like these songs have been around for years. There’s nothing needlessly added, everything has its place, the simple earwormy melodies instantly likeable. ‘Sogni’ provides a step up on what was already a great sound.
You may enjoy this if you like: Terry, Velvet Underground, The Vaselines, Young Marble Giants, Swim Team
‘Sogni’ is out via Upset The Rhythm on 17th April. Pre-order here: https://upsettherhythm.bigcartel.com/product/primo-sogni-lp-pre-order