Small Reactions RXN_002: Album Review

 Michael Morales

Michael Morales

Atlanta quartet Small Reactions is back with their second full length record “RXN_002” and while it isn’t a new direction for the band it is a refining of their fuzz filled pop sound. “RXN_002” begins with a track of the same name and is the calm before the storm. It begins with a driving beat and reverse guitar sweeps but soon turns into a dust of fuzz and distorted vocals. SR then launches without pause into their pumped up number “Session Street”. The sonic winds are swirling through this steady driving beat which the band keeps up for most of the record.

By the third track “Controllerhead” the album has unleashed its gale force winds that propel it through the next eight tracks. “Hold me back I dare you..”, sings Scotty Hoffman through reverb drenched vocals as the atmospheric fuzz creates a sonic hurricane. “Double Vision” sends us even further into the distorted eye of the storm. It’s loud, fast, and exciting but  just like the meteorological comparison the record gets tamer as it reaches its center. "Fatal Flaws" is one of the highlights of the record. A noisy pop number with plenty of single note repetition and jangling tambourine with a hook that is sure to keep you humming.

“Flagrant” is the eye of the storm, it’s the heartbeat, it’s ground zero, where the rest of the album spirals out of creatively. It’s where Small Reactions deconstructs all of the noisy fuzz, distorted vocals, and driving beats. It’s where music meets its traumatic origins.  “Flagrant” brings them back to the basics right before it launches them back out into the outer winds of chaos. “Seven Two” steps the pace back to full throttle, driving towards an unknown place beyond reach.

“Sliding Glass Nightmare” is the dissipation of “Seven Two” clocking in as the longest track on the record. The band takes a step outside of the storm to ruminate on the past tracks. Not all dreams are nightmares but all nightmares are dreams and this instills the manic oscillation of those darker night time meditations.  “Alles” brings us back to a short pop jingle with dark undertones. The winds are starting to recede but not even the weatherman knows when the storm will end.

“El Dorado” is the processing period. “We talked ordinarily in a trance”, Hoffman sings processing the depth of the storm of human emotion explored on the record. And then with resolution in mind we get “Cowboy Up”, which spirals out of control until it’s merely distortion and  thumping bass. As both a call to deal with your trauma but also the trauma inflicted by such thinking.

As far as noisy, fuzz pop goes Small Reactions have honed in  on a delicate balance of catchy tunes and chaotic sonic qualities on this latest release. It’s fast and loud but done with a delicate enough touch that it strikes a dynamic quality allowing for active listening and engagement. Check them out this Thursday August 24th for the album release party for “RXN_002”! They are playing alongside Deep State and Sticky Smooth at The Earl in East Atlanta Village. You can check the record out at https://smallreactions.bandcamp.com/album/rxn-002