Sunday, May 5, 2013

How about some Warm Soda?

I've had my eye on Warm Soda ever since last summer's pop smash "Reaction", and the band's debut album Someone For You is by no means a letdown. Formed last year by Matthew Melton after the Bare Wires literally imploded on stage, Warm Soda comes on like an even poppier version of Bare Wires. Melton and his new crew (bassist Chase Oren, guitarist Rob Good, and drummer Ian McBrayer) have made a mellow power pop album that's perfect for the warm months ahead. Melton's breathy vocals are a bit of a curveball, and at first they turned me off a little. But I came around rather swiftly. Some songs, like the title track and the excellent "Waiting For Your Call", sound like The Strokes made a baby with Shoes. But really, you know, that's kinda cool. The compressed, lo-fi production conjures childhood memories of listening to '70s AM radio on a cheap transistor. And Melton does not attempt to mask his affection for the glammy pop hits of that era. But all in all, Someone For You exhibits a cool modernity that keeps it off the "retro" track.

If there's an obvious strong suit of Warm Soda's game, it would be Melton's mastery of the pop hook. You've got to be pretty confident in your talents when you're leaving a killer single like "Reaction" off the LP. Why rehash old material when you can just go out and write even better stuff? "Jeanie Loves Pop" ought to be on everyone's summer playlist this year. And album closer "Lola" is sheer pop majesty. I like that Melton draws from a wide enough range of inspirations to keep you guessing as to who he's "borrowing" from. "Diamond Ring" hearkens back to early '80s new wave, while "Strange As It Seems" kinda sounds like Buddy Holly experimenting with Brit pop. And "Star Gazer" wouldn't have sounded out of place on a Bomp! Records compilation thirty-some years ago.

After hearing the hook part of "Sour Grapes", you might seriously wonder why Matthew Melton isn't rich and famous, living in a mansion and penning mega-hits for manufactured pop stars. The dude knows how to write a song! Always a tremendous talent, he has rebounded from Bare Wares' demise in a big way. It's probably premature to call Someone For You the best record he's ever played on. But it's a damn fine album, and Melton has definitely found the right bandmates to help him take his songwriting to the next level. I've got a feeling I'm going to be writing a lot about Warm Soda over the next couple of years!


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