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With their new album, ‘If I Never Know You Like This Again’, SOAK has finally shaken the hangover of their starry debut ‘Before We Forgot How To Dream’, and the pressures that came with it, hiding in the wings of their ambitious follow up album, Grim Town. Having come up through BBC introducing at the tender age of 15 before signing to Rough Trade Records as well as winning the RTE Choice Music Prize, The Northern Irish Music Prize and the youngest ever Mercury Prize nominee, SOAK has again and again been described as ‘the voice of a generation.’
Showing from a young age an intensely artistic awareness of the poetry of memory, Bridie Monds-Watson, aka SOAK, would incessantly photograph and video everything, documenting and organising the material so it was always there for them to revisit. “I always want to remember exactly how I felt at a certain moment.” Now, at 25, SOAK’s third album ‘If I Never Know You Like This Again’, is naturally made up of what Bridie intimately calls “song-memories”.
Working closely with Tommy McLaughlin (Villagers), with whom Bridie has been collaborating with since the age of 15, and armed with influences from Pavement, to Radiohead to Broken Social Scene, they wrote most of the album together before recording it with the rest of the band in Attica Studios, Donegal. Throughout the album SOAK pushes and pulls at melodies, but never milks their brilliance. Bridie masterfully glides their vocal melody slightly off-kilter above excitable compressed high hats and flourishing guitar lines. With the new direction of a grungier, more lo-fi production the swooning guitars are given a contemporary pop-edge, reflected in the rich and robust musicality of songs like ‘Bleach’, ‘Last July’ and ‘Pretzel’. There’s a constant pulsating beat at the album’s centre, propelling it towards a kind of dewy happiness, like the end credits of a 90s coming-of-age film. Bridie’s lyrics move through the songs almost as effortlessly and they sing them, and the songs when read, read like poetry. With this album Bridie is, as the title suggests, freezing time in the pursuit of truth: capturing their life into existence.
In the world of ‘If I Never Know You Like This Again’, a life is lived only because it’s remembered.