If ever there were a more appealing sound than the husky voice of a French songstress plying her trade in the English language, I’ve yet to come across it. Soko, or Stéphanie Sokolinski to friends and family, is the latest embodiment of one of my favourite cultural-musical composites to have crossed my path. Having released her second album, the pensively titled My Dreams Dictate My Reality, earlier this very week, Soko is currently on a European tour before heading off to promote the new record in the Americas at the end of the month.
There are a number of influences apparent in this record, all coming together to give Soko the neon-punk rock sound that she has cultivated for this release – one of my immediate favourites is the blunt Who Wears the Pants?, a song that is simple in its composition but has the bragging confidence that comes with the coming of age; it’s very much the sound of the young.
It’s hard to describe why exactly, but as I was listening to the record some of the songs felt like they had a real sense of importance, a weightiness that gives it a perceived seriousness. My Precious, the fourth track off the record, exemplifies this. Starting off with an uncaring introduction before jumping off into a guitar riff that sounds like something from Black Francis, the song then develops with Soko’s driven vocals into something that sounds like it belongs on the soundtrack of some 1980s drama. Moving back into the realms of a sound more contemporary is Bad Poetry, easily my favourite song off the album for its hazy guitar and nonchalant drums which give the song a sun-drenched quality.
Admittedly, this is the first time I’d heard of Soko, but I would urge those who were the same as I to give this album a listen – there is a real sense of nostalgia in her songs, but it’s not an outdated sound. Instead it’s one that sounds young, not in the sense of inexperience but in the sense that this music was written for the exclusive pleasure of young people.
A part of me wishes for Soko’s sake this album had been released 30 years ago because every aspect of it feels like it belongs to that time in style. The title track, one that sounds ominous and is ominous in its sound, is a slow-mo anthem that then gives away to the equally significant-sounding Monster, a song that features the much-lauded Ariel Pink – this is the stuff of dreams for the committed hipster, I’m sure.
To have found this album out has been a pleasure, it is a host to a number of songs that tick all of my boxes whilst maintaining an air of being undeniably aloof the whole way through. It would be unfair to simply this as a successful attempt at being an 80s revivalist attempt because, while sounding heavily like something from those times, it is one of the more original attempts at making music I’ve heard for a while.