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Album Review

by Roy Irwin

1:12 Records

Review Date
24th February 2016
Reviewed by
Louisa Kasza

S.O.D.A. is the fourth full-length album from Roy Irwin – the eponymous solo project from the lead guitarist of Auckland punk act Cool Runnings. Solo projects are peculiar beasts; they at times seem to lend themselves to a more varied and experimental approach than is likely to happen within the natural hierarchy of a band. S.O.D.A. is one of those times.

Combining elements as seemingly disparate as washed-out surf melodies and snarling punk, the result feels like an emotional rollercoaster made of spiders’ webs: fragile, strong, full of ups and down (or lows and lowers). The bedroom-recorded album maintains a masterful tension between upbeat or emotionally neutral-seeming melodies and down-buzz lyrics reminiscent of Dinosaur Jr., Jay Reatard or even Elliott Smith. Songs that may have been in Irwin’s back pocket for a while are nevertheless winningly arranged, with instrumental interludes of opiate-heavy rock cleansing the palate between tracks that range in tone from apathy to buzzed-out psychosis. A wise choice to give prime album real estate to two particular highlights: the heartbreakingly pretty, melancholically crooning ‘Metal Breath’ and the fever dream of ‘Broken Mind’, with its spine-tickling, early-Strokes guitar melodies.

At times, the piss-soaked, hungover loser persona threatens to overwhelm all else, but in S.O.D.A. – or to give its full name, Some Other Dumb Asshole – Irwin has created a modally varied and thoughtfully arranged album full of depression-punk sensibility and melodies as deceptively pretty as jellyfish.


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