15 November 2015

SOAK - Before We Forgot How To Dream

I don't normally open my window and step into the big beyond, unlike Chief Blog Slugger Eddie Carter, who always seems to get excited everytime there's a new, talented or unsigned act kicking about. He'll go into intricate research and follow them religiously, and it's always a wonderful feeling when a blog like ATTIWLTMOWOS raises the band stock. We also have a little question of BBC's Sound of.... during the New Year, which its track record suggests is a career launcher, 50 Cent, Ellie Goulding, Sam Smith are past winners. Is there such a thing as the curse of the Mercury Prize? It's a worry for me as most acts don't seem to progress having won the award, but still very rare we see them nominated for the Sound Of... and Mercury in the same year.

I believe this is the final blog for the Mercury Prize 2015, and as a passing fan of the Cocteau Twins dream pop is usually up my avenue. The album in question is from a young Ulster woman born Bridie Monds-Watson, probably not the coolest name to be found in contemporary musical circles, hence why she's settled on the moniker SOAK. So SOAK it is we'll refer to her as. Her vocals resemble a very young Dolores O'Riordan (well, both are from the Emerald Isle), there's a hint of gravel in her tones tied with a delicate twist. Her compositions are a consistency of acoustic at its most basic that Neil Finn would gladly welcome, we're also treated to a few little electronic loops in this debut outing.

Writing up the track titles could be nightmare for me, as I fear SOAK if she ever gets to read this will bombard me with a saturated welter of typos. Well, here goes anything. The curtain raiser is My Brain, brief instrumental introduction, some backward Jam bleeps, probably a music illustration before B a noBody enters the foray. It's very airy underfoot, her acoustic steel strings mix with a few electric wisps, good advertisement for dream pop. Blud is an ok song, but doesn't really grow on me, lyrically a tad flat, so onto Wait, a piano and strings accompaniment to a whimsical theme, it continues on that vein. Next, we have Sea Creatures, nice little Smith-esque tones and Cranberries have had a look in too.

After the string laden A Dream To Fly, is the urbane 24 Windowed House, which features some much needed harmonies. If the album is looking for a little bite, then Garden is one of the few refined numbers, it's also a positive step up from the seriously rustic and minimal strands. Now it's Shuvels, blatant spelling error, but a Simon and Garfunkel live pastiche, and we do have a couple of dreamy hooks to the concept. I do like the Vienna styled beat in Hailstones Don't Hurt, and I can forgive SOAK for the minimal chorus as well.

Into the business part of the album now, and Reckless Behaviour does seem one of the better produced and more finished numbers. I believe this is a single release, a good choice it must be said. Brief instrumental follows in If Everyone Is Someone - No One Is Everyone before Oh Brother enters the foray. Reminds me of a deeply soul probing Antony & The Johnsons (a previous Mercury winner incidentally), thankfully it's not as dispassionate or numbful. Last up is the intimately arranged Blind, just SOAK and her six string closing the 40 or so minutes she's graced the airwaves.

SOAK's tones I may concede will be an acquired taste. Either you'll grow to like her or not. For somebody writing songs from a young age, she's done well for what she's done so far, even before she's reached 20. Before We Forgot How To Dream is a reasonable outing on a slight charm offensive. It may have tugged some heartstrings of a few other reviewers, for me it hasn't quite got the sharp licks that the Cocteaus managed to perfect over the years. This album I believe could do with a good polishing up and a slicker and improved electronic makeover, there's always scope for one or two little adjustments.

6 out of ten. Now I see where you were going, but not quite there.
Best Track : Hailstones Don't Hurt

Buy Before We Forgot How To Dream here on Amazon
Listen to the album here on Spotify
Listen to the album here on Deezer
Official SOAK Facebook page here
Official SOAK Website here

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