Well, it’s been an incredibly excruciating, unbearably long soul-sucking wait.
2017 drifted on by, 2018 dragged on, tedious at best, and 2019 was a torment of Sisyphean levels but by god, we made it, kids. 2020 is here AND VIOLENT SOHO IS BACK, BABY! F*CK YEAHHHHH! This is not a drill, whip out your blazin’ skull tees, crack a beer and prepare yourselves for the latest in Violent Soho greatness.
If you haven’t already heard, the boys from Brissie have been busy these last three years brewing up a brand spanking new album ‘Everything Is A-Ok’ (out today) for all the good little boys and girls to enjoy.
Luckily for me, Christmas came early this year when Forte managed to score this scorching hot album ahead of time, so I’ve been soaking up every minute of sweet Soho sounds to give you guys a little taster of what you’ll hear today. Now if you’re sitting there wondering who the heck I’m talking about, you need to get your ears checked because these guys have been trailblazing all over Aussie hearts and radio stations for quite some time now.
Most notably, the boys were snapping up the most entries for triple J’s hottest 100 in 2016 from their last album WACO and in 2013 iconic Soho banger ‘Covered In Chrome’ hit number 14 from the band’s smash-hit, rise to prominence release Hungry Ghost. If you’re a lover of gritty, Australian alt-rock and you haven’t heard of that track, or the whole Hungry Ghost album for that matter, I swear it’s a national treasure. Go put it on while you read.
The first thing that becomes obvious in listening through ‘Everything Is A-Ok’ is the huge contrast in tone when compared to its predecessors. It has all the trappings of a classic Violent Soho hit; neck-snapping riffs, introspective lyrics and plenty of Boerdam’s WEOWWW YEAAAAHs. Good stuff. But what is really interesting is that while there are definitely a few tracks to violently hang bang with, the approach seems milder overall.
This seems very un-Soho at first, especially for a long-time ‘Tinderbox’ obsessive like me, but it really seems the band has been doing a lot of reflection over the last three years about who they are and where they’re at as a band. The conclusion of the album as a whole seems to be that they aren’t quite the sullen outcasts they were back in their ‘Tinderbox’ days, everything’s come out a-ok.
We got our tasters for the album with the singles ‘Vacation Forever’, ‘Lying on the Floor’ and ‘A-OK’ released over the last few months in the lead up to the big April premiere, the first two leaning towards the lazy Sunday end of their spectrum, great for sunny afternoon listening in the backyard. ‘A-OK’ was one of the rare but great departures from their signature heavy grunge that we know and love. Mild but emotionally revealing, ‘A-OK’ is reminiscent of the shadowier, subdued parts of Violent Soho, recalling tracks like ‘Paper Plane’, ‘Hungry Ghost’ and ‘Low’, although this time around the feeling isn’t so melancholy and despondent. The pursuit of a floaty acoustic track that bleeds into melodic echo just leaves you with the feeling that the band is so at peace with where they are and really conveys everything the rest of the album has to say.
The other stand-out that really explores this newfound sense of reflection and emotional maturity as a band is ‘Slow Down Sonic’. The title may be cute and kitschy, but when you’re driving alone or have some time to just sit in your room and stare out your window, this one will lead you down that road of introspection that they’re so damn good at when they’re not busy thrashing out pub bangers.
Speaking of, I wouldn’t want to leave you with the impression that the boys have flattened out and left their head-banging days behind them, oh no-no. The rest of the album definitely brings the high energy, heavy alt noise that we know and love, it’s just not so exasperated and pessimistic. They bring blistering guitar sounds that Boerdam says he is COMPLETELY happy with for the first time – hard boy to please, that one – but it just feels so much more fun, light-hearted and fancy-free. Their demons and hungry ghosts have been haunting them long enough and they’ve finally decided to cut the bullshit loose and write music that makes them happy.
I want to give a special mention to the opener ‘Sleep Year’ which I really think serves up all the best take-away parts of this new A-OK, feel-good sensation. The intro is killer, rumbling towards you like a freight train and blasts out into some of the best hard-core jamming since ‘Son of Sam’. “Well if it makes you happy” Boerdam hollers out over the noise, and I really think that’s the entire point. This is what makes the boys happy, you can’t wallow around in the past forever.
Reflect on it, write a few smash-hit angry albums and then let it go. Crack a beer, bask in the sun with some friends, just do whatever makes you happy and everything will turn out A-OK.
To celebrate the release, the Soho boys are hosting a live listening party for their fans! Tune in from your couch via Soho’s Facebook or YouTube tomorrow at 4.20pm QLD time (5.20pm AEDT), to join in the biggest live stream listening session in Australia! The four band members will stream their new album and take questions from fans throughout.
Your Friday arvo in isolation sorted.
Everything Is A-OK – out now through I OH YOU.
Reviewed by Jess Sercombe
Photo by Sean Pyke