When Violent Soho released their previous album Hungry Ghost, they had made an obvious and conscious move from their alternative/garage rock twang. Instead, they became an amalgamation of the 90s, with sounds influenced by pop punk and grunge of that era. The band cites this change as them writing an album that was “just for them”. And though they had far less time to record it, newest album Waco seems to have been born from much the same purpose.
Luke Boerdam, the guitarist, vocalist and songwriter for the band has described Waco as Hungry Ghost’s “older sister”. And in many ways I agree, as Waco acts as a protective blanket to its predecessor, reinforcing what it introduced and expanding on it, both in terms of genre and lyrical content. And armed with the confidence boost of their last albums success, the band seems to have now taken a small step into the unknown, no longer simply emulating bands with a sound like that they wanted to achieve.
Songs like Evergreen offer an impressive combination of passion, pensivity and pseudo-aggression, all emphasized with an upsurge of power in the last minute of play. Sentimental, one of this albums less feisty songs, is a melodic, vocal-driven track that manages to be ever-so-slightly remindful of Foo Fighters’ classic Best Of You. It is also cleverly placed between the two powerful singles Viceroy, and Like Soda, so acts as a welcome resting point between two of the highest energy peaks on this record. The singles are also where the bands mix of influences become most apparent, showing pop punk hints of early Blink 182 and Yellowcard contrasted with grittier, raw instrumentation, remindful of old grunge band Mudhoney.
The main flaw to detail in this album is that although it is exploratory in terms of lyrical content, musically it can get slightly mundane. There are only so many times the rollercoaster of ambience-build up-aggression-repeat can remain enjoyable. And as you pass the mid-point of this album, Violent Soho begin to exhaust that formula, only just pulling it back with closing song Low, a largely introspective number that’s stays with you long after its melodious outro has played out. Regardless though, Waco is a definite step up for the band, and is a record that already induces excitement for what is next to come.