The Last Mixed Tape reviews Grim Town, the long-awaited sophomore studio album from Soak.
There’s a sprawling artistic journey at the heart of Grim Town, contrasting the insular immediacy of her debut outing, Soak’s return introduces a far more expansive sound that plays ambitious conceptually led songwriting across a widescreen production. Resulting in expressionistic-pop music where nothing is lost in translation.
Identifying Grim Town as something very different from what has come before, the opening tongue in check train station announcement of ‘all aboard’ (which portrays Grim Town as a place devoid of all hope) sets out the contrasting tone of the record as it is quickly cut by the propellent shuffle and sonic release of ‘Get Set Go Kid’. A song that instils the dreamlike undercurrent of Soak’s second offering whilst also introducing the musical and dynamic collage that runs through Grim Town.
The vivid variance of Grim Town continues as the jangled hooky pop milieu of ‘Maybe’ and summery indie of ‘Knock Me Off My Feet’ is offset by the textural hum of the piano ballad ‘Crying Your Eyes Out’ and subtle heartfelt moments of ‘Valentine Shmalentine’. This central sonic melding creates the perfect backdrop for Soak’s lyrical openness to take centre stage.
This is possibly nowhere better seen on Grim Town than on ‘Everybody Loves You’. Here the big ambitious pop production, hand claps and dreamy midsection are contrasted by the inner turmoil found within the lyrics where we find the opening line “Everybody wants you, not me today cause I’m done” run through self-denial and bravado like “I was built from concrete, cause I don’t hurt no more” and finally to “Everybody wants you, and I do too”. This twist in perspective works throughout Grim Town as its biggest strength.
A record with the contrast set to full, Grim Town is a masterstroke from Soak that feels natural in comparison to what came before on Before We Forgot How To Dream whilst also portrays an immediate artistic vision that looked to expand upon those ideas. In this way, Grim Town is every bit the journey it sets out to be, and one that will know doubt continue for Soak in a much wider context, as she has not only produced a stellar sophomore album but also made it harder to predict where she’ll go from here.
Grim Town by Soak is due for release on April 26th via Rough Trade Records.