[3 May 2004]
In the world of popular culture, everything is subjective. Well, that’s probably true for a lot of life in general as well, but when it comes down to liking things and thus participating in them, who purposely picks out things that they really wouldn’t enjoy on a repetitive basis? This subjectivity covers everything from the way we have our steaks cooked to the floor tiles we choose to the brand of garbage bags we buy. It covers the mundane and the fantastic all at once. It also covers listening to music and writing these reviews.
Can one stay perfectly objective in a music review? Possibly, but then the pieces that come forth from the writer’s pen are often clinical studies, which music does not lend itself very well to. Music is an organic experience, something that works on the senses and creates emotional responses. To write reviews that are nothing but essays of neutrality seems like a defeat of the entire purpose. As a writer, you know you’ve hit a nerve when someone takes the time to write in and complain or praise you work. And that’s difficult to acquire when being completely objective, unless someone’s just writing in to argue facts, which may turn into a slight case of semantics more than anything else.
And so here we are discussing Sodastream‘s A Minor Revival. Many have really sunk their teeth into this disc and really wrapped their minds around all that is offered here and become incredibly excited from its songs. As for me, I found it one of the most difficult things I’ve had to listen to in quite a while. Why? Because it’s one of those albums that just failed to register much of a reaction in me beyond a stifled yawn. So, OK, maybe I’m not “getting it”. Maybe I’m like one of the people that don’t get Captain Beefheart’s Trout Mask Replica, an album I would never want to be without. Yet, I listened to this thing and I suppose the best way of putting it was how completely absorbed I was at its amazing powers of being able to bore the drums right out of my ears.
Sodastream makes nice, quiet music. Fine. But does every song here have to sound like the same song 13 times over? My ears and pulse picked up once, and that was for the second track, “Blinky”, that’s quite a peppy little number complete with little blasts of horns here and there. But most of this disc is given over to Karl Smith’s quiet guitar and voice, Pete Cohen’s double bass, and Marty Brown’s brushed drum work.
And, man, did I ever get tired of hearing those brushes.
A Minor Revival is pleasant enough stuff, but it’s pleasant to the point of being annoying. I listened intently and wanted the pace to pick up at least a couple times, but it didn’t happen. Song after song came through the speakers. Be it “Out”, “Horses”, “Undone”, “Mrs. Gray”, or “Brass Lines”—the songs all blended together in a sort of bittersweet melancholia that brought out a large case of the yawns in me. Literally. Even when Smith injects the slightest amount of caffeine into a song like “Nervous”, it’s not quite enough to cause a variation.
I’d say there’s an audience out there who’d thrill to the sounds of Sodastream. There has to be, otherwise they wouldn’t exist, right? There wouldn’t be a few releases, with A Minor Revival being the latest. Yet there’s just not enough here to garner my interest beyond “Blinky”. Had this band turned off the valium drip a few times more here, I, too, would perhaps become a bit excited at this work. But they didn’t, and I had a hard time staying awake, so infectious was their narcotic approach. Well, I suppose if you did need a remedy for insomnia, this album could be the magical elixir.
Published at: http://www.popmatters.com/pm/review/sodastream-minor/