Sodastream – A Minor Revival

A Minor Revival

A Minor Revival is the seventh release from the Australian group Sodastream. I don’t know where the name comes from, but it makes me think of a clown gag involving a seltzer spray bottle. As an album that clocks in at 13 songs, Revival is a remarkably consistent effort, every song a pleasurable pop gem. But this shouldn’t be too surprising, I suppose, as songwriters Karl Smith and Pete Cohen have led the group through various incarnations since their 1997 release Enjoy, including a stint as a guitar and double bass duo. They managed some BBC radio airplay early on and have since hit the US as well, including an appearance at the South By Southwest Festival.

All of this is to say that these guys are old pros. They have augmented their sound here with light drums, trumpet, and viola but maintain a formula of spare arrangements and hooky melodic lines.

Nothing on this record will sound unfamiliar to anyone who owns a Belle & Sebastian album, and in fact Smith’s voice sounds eerily similar to Stuart Murdoch’s, but this isn’t to take anything away from Sodastream, who at this point I think I like better than Belle & Sebastian. This band strips away a lot of the indie pretension that can often get so cloying, and the musicians seem more sincere, far less “ironic” and fey. Their lyrics are often gorgeous. “I adored this crumpled lawn and I greeted you / with a grinding jaw and a beer in hand. / The laugh lines made me second rate,” Smith sings on the wistful “Mrs. Gray.” As you can see, melancholy and nostalgia cross their well-worn paths many times in these songs. They’re not all so heavy, however. “America” is a simple song about wanting to run away with someone.

A Minor Revival (I wonder if they could have meant “a-minor” as a pun) harnesses the better instincts of indie pop without giving in to its excesses, though, it must be said, without breaking any new ground either. Nevertheless, fresh-sounding pop music is always welcome, and this album contains plenty of it.