So Cow is an indie rock outfit led by Brian Kelly. The band has had a storied history over the years since their formation in 2005, having had a stint of fame in South Korea for naming a song after a local pop star. Fifteen years later and it’s still going strong, with Kelly holding up the moniker as a one-man band. His latest album entitled But What Has That Done to the Scores? was, according to his bandcamp page: “Recorded in the midst of, but not due to, a pandemic.” And indeed it shows, as the tone and mood of this record signifies that even with everything that’s happening, life goes on for Kelly. And so does his brand of infectious and punk-infused style of indie rock. Grungy guitars, sharp lyricism and an overall versatility for crafting hooks and melodies remains the mainstay for every So Cow release. Kelly’s songwriting serves somewhat of a time capsule for the things going on in his life and environment, and this one is no different. There’s always an interesting story in each of his songs and his blunt story-telling style is something that’s so easy to get immersed in. In this particular album we find him mulling about the world’s current situation, oftentimes dealing with boredom while trying to figure out and adjust to what’s going on right now.
“Auto Scan” is a laid-back romp that wrestles with wanting to hang out with someone in a world of isolation. “The Longer Weekend” is a surfy tune that takes listeners to his home of Galway, Ireland watching people pass by for their holidays. “Exercise” is a punchy post-punk song about trying to squeeze in a bit of a workout while the shops are closed and there are soldiers deployed around in town.
There’s an inherent charm to these songs, it’s like we’re transported into the mind of an everyman trying to navigate the many changes to mundane life. “Desertion” is another song that confronts the adjustment period during the pandemic where he sings of: “doing what we can to pass the time” which constitutes mostly of “living on your head”. It perfectly captures the confusion and boredom as he tries to face a new reality.
One highlight of this record is “Now That I Am 37”, where Kelly sings about the changes brought about by age in a whimsical way, noting the fact that he has gained weight and has a couple more responsibilities. This infectious song ends with an assessment on how many more years he has left and if he’s spent it well. With an album as fun and infectious as this, I think he’s done quite well.