SOAK’s Bridie Monds-Watson (they/them) has incessantly documented their life in photos and video from a young age. “I hate the idea of getting older and forgetting, or having a family and not being able to perfectly explain a memory or a feeling. I always want to remember exactly how I felt at a certain moment,” they explain. It makes perfect sense then that “If I Never Know You Like This Again'' is made up of what Bridie calls “song-memories”. Having written much of the new album during the pandemic, when time felt at its slowest, Bridie's obsessive need to document each chapter of their life made a marvel of the mundane.
Alongside long-time collaborator Tommy McLaughlin (he/him), the two wrote most of the album together while listening obsessively to indie bands like Broken Social Scene and Pavement and Radiohead’s classic album The Bends. They honed in on this new riff-led, mid-90s sound, “nerding out on guitars and pedals like moronic bros” before recording it with the rest of the band in Attica Studios in Donegal. Previous SOAK albums had either been recorded remotely or by just two people, but If I Never… sees all the members of SOAK in the studio simultaneously. After being away from each other for the majority of the pandemic, it was important to create the record as a band, and the joyful energy of having everyone in the same room again is palpable.
On If I Never…, SOAK’s brilliant melodies are on full display. Lead single ‘last july’ features a masterfully off-kilter vocal set against swooning guitars, creating a lush pop song that wouldn’t be out of place in the end credits of a 90s coming-of-age film. Lyrically, Bridie manages to be both playful and self-aware. The idea of identity is central to the record, and Bridie’s lyrics are as deeply personal as they are universal. “This record is the most accurate picture of me. I felt no pressure at all, it was almost like I was ranting as I was writing,” they explain.“When I was looking to the past, it was as though I had a big lottery ball of all my recent memories and I would just randomly select which one I wanted to unpack. It helped me to process my past.” Tapping into their specific experiences, the result is a record that is deeply relatable and sparkling, as it traverses the ups and downs of their journey to become a fully realized person.
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