On January 21st, 2021, I sat down to listen to Sweet Soul’s newest release and first LP So Far No Further. The album was hosted exclusively on Brooklyn Vegan, a reputable source, the day before its official release.Brooklyn Vegan quoted the band’s 70’s punk influence: The Ramones, Talking Heads, etc etc…which is not uncommon for a socal band. As a student of Southern California DIY, I know that every band member from Pomona to Anaheim loves old school punk rock.
Sweet Soul was no exception. I researched their Instagram and found super dope photos of the band jamming out. “This band totally rocks!” I thought. When it comes to So Far No Further my thought was both right and wrong.
When I contextualize this album, I do think every song on So Far No Further would resonate with a live audience. The band played a live set with Moah Cedar’s concert series which you can catch here. They started off with the edgiest song “Digging Your Grave”, a short and fast punk jam to get you moving. Every song on So Far No Further is catchy and easy to bob your head along to. The lyrics are simple, not too heady, and accessible. If I heard these songs blind at a concert, I would probably rock out, but not be rush to the merchandise table. The music is good.
But that’s it. It’s just good. In my opinion. So Far No Further lacks an IT factor. The songs are about two minutes long, and don’t have a bridge. This is normal for punk, but the songs seem too fast to invest emotion. Some songs on the album have wicked guitar solos. The solo in “Digging Your Grave” acts as a break from the Sweet Soul format. Like I said earlier, I think “Digging Your Grave” is their edgiest song and exemplifies the band’s potential.
The vocalist Taylor Soul quotes the band’s influence as 70’s punk and Chicago Hardcore. Sweet Soul captures 70s punk with their fast, energy driven instrumentals. Taylor’s voice mixed with echo effects and long droning notes, to me, strongly resembles 90s pop punk. Not to mention the drum beat! Although the band says inspired by hardcore, I’m not picking up on it. Check it out.
In an exclusive press release, the new LP So Far No Further is said to be “Packed with dynamic songwriting and more personal lyrics than before.” Although some of their lyrics are edgy when compared to pop, I don’t think this statement holds up. The lyrics I found were “Cherish the important things / Before they’re gone” and “If I had just one more chance / Wouldn’t ask or even act.” Nothing new here for me. On top of the cliché, I don’t believe these songs tell a clear or cohesive story. I always enjoy vulnerable lyrics, but these poems didn’t express strong feelings about one thing or another. You can read all of the lyrics to their new album on Sweet Soul’s Bandcamp.
I still stand by my original thought. This band is fun live, but to be a truly good band in the 21st century, they have to start thinking of the album experience. Listening to music at home on a record player or on a streaming service must be accounted for, and though this album is an extreme improvement compared to their first EP, Sweet Soul must do some soul searching before their next release. For this fan, improvements mean more solos, lyrics that tell a clear story, and switching up the melodies. Was I right? Take a listen and leave a comment below!
Oh also, if you heckin love this LP, Sweet Soul has a ton of merch on http://www.newmoralityzine.com/