Saturday, 14 January 2017

Guest Post: Soda Album Review

Soda - Artificial Flavour album review

When I first heard the album and the band mentioned on the Britpop Revival Show (BRS) I have to admit I'd never come across them back in the day. Even as an avid reader of the NME/Melody Maker/Select/Vox etc I don't recall seeing them advertised or mentioned. So their sudden reappearance on the Britpop landscape intrigued me somewhat; who are they, where do they come from, and most importantly what happened to them? Luckily these were answered by Nick on the BRS when he had them on for interview.

Soda in 1995
Fast forward a few weeks and BRS and Soda had a copy to give away and I was the lucky recipient. I told the Soda guys I'd write down a few words after I'd heard it in full but Xmas and kids, etc slowed me down. But here we are in 2017 and we are at the dawn of the 20th anniversary of the year that Britpop is widely agreed to have expired (or at least the music press decided to give it the elbow having got bored of their plaything), Tony Blair got into power, Oasis got slated for Be Here Now, Blur went lo-fi and more American, Pulp turned darker and sadly the manufactured pop industry fired up its factories to churn out the (still seemingly never ending) chart friendly meaningless pop acts that the industry love to flog to kids. Fitting then that I'm thinking about a Britpop band that just missed the boat and found that the Britpop boat not only sailed off without them but sadly sank and took many good girls and lads with it.

The album opens with One Sweet Lie that catches your attention with chugging guitar power chords that to my ear fall somewhere between the punky pop of Ash and the short lived genre called New Wave of New Wave (NWONW). The verses and choruses bounce along at a good pace with a sound that really reminds me of the NWONW band These Animal Men, whom I really like so Soda have got a thumbs up from me on this opening track!

The best song on the album is Inside which ticks every box on the Britpop checklist; great hook, a chorus you can yell along to, music that's fun and spiky and demands the listener to jump around too. This could've been a huge 90's chart hit if it had been given the right backing and found a helpful hand from the likes of Chris Evans as he did for Ocean Colour Scene.

The rest of album is the type of great Britpop tune-smithery which is sadly lacking in today's current indie scene, and One Track Mind gives us another 90's trademark; the string section accompaniment to the main guitar riff, this song also showcases the vocal talents of a lead singer who can actually sing! Don't ask me why but I can easily imagine this being sung by Sonya Aurora Madan from Echobelly, in fact a duet of Soda and Sonya on this track would really work I reckon. Prettiest Souls is another song that would be a great addition to any mix tape found under a teenagers bed circa 1996, stick it on in the 6th form common room between Supersonic by Oasis and Dolphin by Shed Seven and this number won't be out of place.

The penultimate number Let Myself Slip is crashing guitar chords which sound like waves hitting an indie pop beach back in that sunny summer of 1995.....happy days.

To sum it up I'd say this is a lovely time capsule of mid 90's Britpop that has been a treat to dig up and enjoy in 2017. Soda were obviously a talented band who suffered from either bad luck or bad timing or both. They had a sound that was a mix (to my musically-uneducated ears) of Menswe@r, These Animal Men, Ash, Feeder, Echobelly and Sleeper. I get the feeling they were fans of The Jam and The Buzzcocks as they grew up and this has influenced their take on the Britpop sound. My final thought is that it does seem a surprise that they didn't breakthrough in 1996 as they'd planned to, and Britpop is slightly poorer for it.

Artificial Flavour by Soda is out now. Buy it on CD or cassette from

This was a guest post by James Tanner. Follow him on Twitter @britpopmemories.

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