Review: The Soap Company – Big Bang
Published on April 26th, 2012 | Jonny Abrams
Arriving hot on the heels of last year’s fabulous debut album Danger!, this second full-length from Anthony Barrett’s revolving door recording project represents a fine choice of summer soundtrack for those who like their electronic music eclectic, synaesthetic and funky in all the right ways.
The ambient rave synths of “The Disco Express” lull you in straight from the off, its trance-y splendour reaffirming The Soap Company’s masterful approach to technicolour soundscapes with sleek, twiddly synth interjections, fluttery flute and even an old-school rap; and by the time the ensuing “King Kong & Godzilla” has laid a dizzying guitar loop over what sounds a bit like Orbital and Saint Etienne indulging in an energetic skank, well, it’s pretty darn clear that there isn’t going to be any letup in quality across Big Bang‘s ten tracks.
“Gucci shades cover up my vacant stare / I’m in the papers and I don’t care / I’m on the strip and I’ve got money to burn” brags the album’s prevailing vocalist Lorraine Jones on “The Princess Complex”, giving you an insight into the fiery-bellied social commentary at play in much of the lyrics, before the whole thing gets ramped ‘n’ vamped up for a thrillingly disorienting chorus. Let it be known that The Soap Company not only knows how to get your pupils dilating and your teeth gurning, but is able to achieve this through delicious, trumpet-fuelled jazziness. Scuzziness and luxuriousness, together at last!
“California Speedway Line” sounds a bit like the theme from a ’70s cop show (strange how this is invariably a good thing, but there you go), “This is Your Captain Speaking” contains such delightful instructions as “If you need to leave the flight suddenly, simply push one of the doors firmly…and jump”, and the first-class extraterrestrial funk of “Space Thang” introduces a baggy early ’90s rhythm to exquisitely twinkling electric piano, managing to be nocturnal and hypnotic without surrendering energy; however, it’s not clear whether the refrain of “it’s just a space thing” refers to outer space or merely not being able to give someone a lift in your car. Either way, it’s bloody great.
The title track is another spellbindingly funky/funkily spellbinding number, Jones’s sweetly compelling vocals combining just the right measures of restraint and depth before ominous strings are brought in to accompany the sound of bombs dropping. The guitar riff subsequently thrown on top would be really rather jolly in isolation, and this makes for a hugely effective contrast, this cheerful lick sounding as if it’s entirely unaware of the danger it’s just stumbled into.
“Riot In©” makes happy playmates out of glowing house synths, a garage beat and daisy-age hip-hop zaps before opening up in utterly wondrous fashion, rushing felty synths sending your senses aflutter, lyrics about “insubordination” and “civil disobedience” sustaining the Orwellian ventriloquising. Chaos and disorder have never sounded so alluring and downright sexy.
The powerful vocal talents of Stephanie Barbato take centre stage for rowdy old-school party tune “Planet ‘Me'”, possibly the album’s strongest track by dint of how expertly it suggests broad appeal without sacrificing even an iota of integrity, and “Back to You” brings the curtain down on a classic soul note courtesy of Craig Yarney’s vocal, with flutes and Shaft-guitar wicka wackas throwing in a load of funk for good measure. And those discordant electric piano chords, such a key player (pun intended) in the Soap Company sound…mwah!
Big Bang is psychedelic music for the gut and hips as much as for the brain and soul, so open up your ears and heart. A resounding triumph.
Rocksucker says: Four and a Half Quails out of Five!