[8 May 2013]
It only took Matthew Melton about a year from the breakup of his band Bare Wires until his next band Warm Soda released its debut album, Someone for You. That makes sense, as Melton moves quickly. Bare Wires cranked out about an album a year with his Oakland garage act before it essentially ended at 2012’s SXSW. Speed, or at least efficiency, continues to be important, with Warm Soda going for the two-minute singles and the album that comes in under 30 minutes. The album doesn’t sound rushed, but while it has its stellar moments, it could have benefited from the group spending a little more time on it.
Warm Soda builds its sounds around power-pop hooks, with bubbly, catchy music that stays just raw enough to keep its edge. There’s a bit of a glam and a bit of punk, too, and the influences that you’d expect abound: the Buzzcocks, the Jam, maybe some Cheap Trick, probably the Soft Boys (I hear less familiar act the Exploding Hearts, but that would be through an extra layer of influence in any case). In getting into this mix, Warm Soda takes the same risk that all power-poppers do, which is that in creating hummable, fetching melodies within a certain palette (limited in this case across the entire album), you get hummed and fetch for a brief burst and then blend back into that general feeling. Some of Someone for You suffers from that very problem, but fortunately enough of it stands out that it’s worth repeated listens.
The album’s top track, “Jeanie Loves Pop”, sounds custom-made for a late ‘70s movie, and I’m not sure it’s okay to listen to it without throwing on a retro leather jacket. It’s sugar, of course, and there’s no sense caring how many times “pop”, “top”, and “stop” get rhymed here. The song revolves around the outsider lost in a world created by records, and her observer’s connection through a similar experience. The tension revolves around the singer’s wondering if Jeanie can even notice him because she’s so absorbed in her music. It’s a great little turn with an eminently repeatable hook.
Although fuzzier than Big Star, Warm Soda, at its best, has the melodic sensibility of that band’s legacy, borne out in songs like “Sour Grapes”, “Lola”, and the title track. However, when the melody fails, the band is left with a single style. At a half-hour burst, it doesn’t much matter, and you can certainly bop around to the entire order. On reconsidering the album, though, chunks of it disappear in ways that hooky albums can’t really afford. Stripped to its nuggets (punnish allusion intended), Someone for You displays great promise, and the band is worthy of playlists and soundtracks. In moving forward, though, Melton and his bandmates should realize they’ve achieved this sound and figure out ways to flesh it out.