Anyone who absorbs an ungodly amount of music will tell you – sometimes the bands and records become lifetime companions and sometimes….well, sometimes you struggle to remember what they sound like. Those initial impressions are important – don’t get me wrong – but those records that stay lodged in your brain forever, those are hard to come by. Manchester, England’s Soup have released a debut album that I am sure will stick with me forever. It’s one of my favorite records of 2014.
Soup features Andy Whitaker (The Sun and the Moon, Music For Aborigines, solo), Oz Cooper (Paris Angels), Dug McLeod (The Dead Tapes), and Colin Smith (The Midlife Dementia Show), with guest appearances from Deborah Cooper and Jan Whitaker. Musically, it builds on Andy’s 2012 solo record (which was reviewed here) while bringing in “Madchester” and Shoegaze elements. The band have titled the album Album and I find that apt – it is a body of work that deserves to be taken in as a whole. First things first, check out that cover art – friends and band members holding classic records from several different times and genres. You might notice classics from Blondie, Tubeway Army, and the Sex Pistols – you’ll also see my favorite Genesis record, Foxtrot. A hint of what influences the sounds on the record, and a brilliant album cover.
The album came about by chance, as these things often do. Andy had been asked to provide guest vocals to the (since scrapped) reunion record by Paris Angels. Oz and Andy continued to record, bringing Dug McLeod in on drums and Colin Smith in on keyboards. Andy and Oz both brought songs to the table and fleshed them out together. Andy’s solo album had a few tunes that hinted at his more abrasive back catalogue and here it bears fruit – some of these songs are an altogether noisier affair than we saw 2 years ago. The Paris Angels are very much remembered as coming from the “baggy” era, Madchester at its peak popularity. The record has a bit of that influence as well, no doubt Oz Cooper’s influence. Timely keyboard flourishes with the perfect back beat – this is a record that shows its influences but sounds perfectly in tune with what is going on in 2014.
…seeking out Venus and Mars (highlights)
Colour Coded opens the record with a sitar vibe, very much sounding like The Beatles in the late 60’s. The rhythm sections kicks in, and its a bass line for the ages. Synthesizer / programming in the background give the whole song and epic vibe. The vocals are restrained, fitting within the entire atmosphere of the tune. I love this opening line “From the way you toss your hair / The preferences you share / Your probiotic stare”. A perfect way to open the album. Hope For The Working Classes is a nice thought, a great song title, and an even better song. This has an indie rock feel, a lighter vibe throughout. Belle and Sebastian get name checked in the lyrics and that also gives an indication of what this song sounds like. The song breaks down into a chant at the end “Hope for the working class / But no love on the dole”. Chant Like a Loon is a really aggressive song that sounds like a hit single in an alternate universe. You have a raging lead guitar lick forefront at first, but it gets overtaken by the….chant like vocals. It’s like The Beatles met The Stone Roses and threw in a bit of Washington State garage rock on guitar. There is a nod to the Velvet Underground’s Murder Mystery in the last-minute or so, different voices chanting different things. The bass line goes higher in the mix, sounding like Joy Division. I love this song! Shoegaze Song sounds like a shoegaze song from the early 90’s, so it is an apt song title. In this age of Slowdive and Ride reunions, it is perfectly modern as well. It also features the funniest line on the record “Even though we have boots on lets all sing a shoegaze song”. Spider In My Room is a psychedelic rocker and stunning in every sense of the word. Drums are particularly impressive on this tune, holding everything together as cacophony rages on around. Layered vocals, weaving a tale that most people can relate to “I’ll see the room is clear from the people that you fear / Don’t come in too soon there’s a spider in my room”. Universe is a quieter song that would have fit right in with Andy’s last solo record. The guitar work does remind me of Steve Hackett’s work with Genesis. Hazy vocals with lyrics that tap into childhood dreams. The song kicks it up another gear halfway through and builds towards an emotional crescendo. Perfect. How Can You Love Me closes the record on an acoustic note, with haunting lyrics.
I really can’t say enough about this record – it is a masterpiece in every sense of the word. You can feel the confluence of talent and effort here. The album is out NOW and is available via Itunes or physically by getting in touch with the band here (you’ll need to be logged into Facebook). Believe me, this is a record you’ll be playing quite a bit.
Verdict: Stars Burning Bright
For Fans of: The Stone Roses, The Chameleons, Paris Angels, The Sun and the Moon, Ride, Slowdive, Primal Scream
- Colour Coded
- Hope For The Working Class
- The Author
- You Must Be An Angel
- Chant Like a Loon
- Eyes That Lie
- Come On Over
- The Apple
- Shoegaze Song
- Spider In My Room
- How Can You Love Me