What a fine surprise has Soup‘s new album been. On their previous release, The Beauty Of Our Youth (2013), the Norwegian foursome had tastefully blended alternative rock with classical, cinematic and electronic elements. Four years afterwards, they’ve come back to conquer modern post-rock in a unique yet familiar way.
RELEASE DATE: 07 April 2017 LABEL: Crispin Glover Records (Norway), Stickman Records (Int.)
Imagine catchy Snow Patrol tunes meeting King Crimson’s flow at a Porcupine Tree gig. That’s Remedies, an impressive landscape of different genres creating an album that still feels complete as a whole. Produced by Paul Savage (Mogwai, Franz Ferdinand) and presented with captivating artwork, the album starts humble, almost naked. With a lonely acoustic guitar and delicious vocals, “Going Somewhere” mutates into strings, solid drum rhythms, and a cool indie-rock chorus. That could have been more than enough for a nice tune, but instead of stopping there, an unexpected harmonic tsunami kicks in before the 6th minute projecting Soup into post-rock’s main door.
Once the fire starts it’s hard to put off. “The Boy And The Snow” is a sublime follow-up that one may feel tempted to keep spinning over and over again, considering the half-rested / half-boosted beginning, its lovely vocals, and the rhythm change in the second part thattransports the listener from a floating limbo to exultant meaning-of-life celebrations. Probably one already forgot about the initial vocals by this point, but they suddenly return inside an epic finale.
Such a blast could even invite the listener to make a thankful prayer, and that’s actually achieved on “Audition”, an intermission featuring what seems to be a real church organ. With sins forgiven, one is ready for “Sleepers”, the longest track of the record (exceeding 13 minutes) and probably the Scandinavian Jethro Tull reincarnation – with the permission of Simon & Garfunkel. A flute-ish synth gets combined with infinitely delicate vocals (This author will not cease to insist on how damn good all the vocal melodies are) until a second part where an addictive bass line is used to build up a wonderful psychedelic block. That includes sticky guitars, a fair noise dose and even flangered drums. Oh man, the progressive 70s are back! Until a new rhythm twist… better stop spoiling around, right?
There’s only one arguable doubt about the whole album: a rather enigmatic fade out at the very end. A big debate started in Arctic Drones about it. Some mates took the side of “A weak ending for an impeccable album”, and others (one, actually) went for “I… don’t hate the fade out”. It’s certainly risky to conclude such a big effort with a fade out, like decades ago Genesis did on “Time Table”. However it seemed to work out for Genesis, since the record including that song became the biggest band’s success at the time of its release. I truly hope Soup will get the recognition they deserve for an album that should be a must in every “Best of 2017” list.