Violent Soho – WACO

Violent Soho
I Oh You

We’ve all been anticipating the release of Violent Soho’s WACO, many of us expecting the same sound. After singles ‘Like Soda’ and ‘Viceroy’, we’re keen to see how they sit on WACO. But is Violent Soho’s interesting and new mature sound something that will be liked by everyone?

The opening to ‘How to Taste’ is a deceivingly delicate 90s inspired guitar solo, but it’s absolutely no indication of what’s to come next – a timeless punk rock song that borrows from our favourite band of the 90s – Blink182. Violent Soho don’t hold back, references to marijuana and relentless profanity letting us nod to the beat with approval.

The background vocals in ‘Blanket’ and the fast-paced drumming really nail the feeling of punk rock, while ‘Viceroy’ bears cleaner vocals in its intro, reflecting the intro and outro of ‘How to Taste’. There is so much energy in this album already, it’s hard not to think the subtle bass and rock-and-roll guitar riff in ‘Viceroy’ hold an element of sass.

‘Sentimental’, by its title, is pretty telling – it’s a classic rock ballad, yet unlike most emotional songs. Hardly whiny, it’s gentle and reminiscent of The Smashing Pumpkins’ famous ballads, without being mushy. This song shows the calibre that Violent Soho have, and the fearlessness they have in experimenting with their sound. Dubbed as Hungry Ghost’s ‘older sister’, WACO shows evidence of a band that has really grown since their debut.

Following is ‘Like Soda’, an effortless garage rock piece with lyrics to match: ‘I don’t mind, I don’t care’. The next song ‘No Shade’ bears a similar effortless feel with its gentle guitar, yet holds lyrics of the same stance: ‘you can say what you want, but I don’t have a problem’.

A handful of the earlier songs on WACO play games with our head, sounding like gentle songs to begin with, but coming out with a vicious chorus. Another such example is ‘Slow Wave’, which introduces another instance of the f-word before dissolving into a pretty disappointing end. But what can we say? We can count a couple of instances of the f-word, but nothing of the prominence ‘hell fuck yeah’ had. This interesting blend of songs also has a handful of surprising softer music, tapping into the emotional side of the band and seeming a lot more laid back.

Thankfully, ‘Evergreen’ picks up the pace with energetic drumming and wild vocals, returning with some experimental guitar and a metal-inspired sound. ‘Holy Wave’, a blend of steady verses and edgy choruses, begins to follow this pattern. ‘WACO’, on the other hand, doesn’t quite live up to being the album’s title. It’s a song that has rather monotonous vocals to begin with, but perhaps this leads rather well into the powered chorus and the way the lyrics ‘fucking liars’ make the air feel stone cold.

‘Low’ is a precious album closer. As someone who greatly appreciates the emotional side of rock, ‘Low’ taps into my love for slow emotional rock, stylised with whispered vocals and streams of guitar notes. The movement from background noise at the beginning of the song to barely any background noise is almost chilling. The dynamics in the song remind me of Live’s song ‘Lightning Crashes’, a seemingly bitter and delicate song that pushes to the edge until a chorus is practically begged. The bridge of ‘Low’ brings a loud and contrasting strength, before being grasped away by the repetitive and steady guitar notes on their own.

It almost ends too soon for the last song to leave a true impression.

Violent Soho do an amazing job of having just the right amount of songs on an album. Ever seen an album with fifteen songs and doubt any of them are really any good? Or ever walked into a restaurant with way too many things on the menu and wondered if the chefs could cook all of the meals really well? Violent Soho don’t leave us with any kind of doubt. Their albums leave us confident that they chose the best songs out of all the ones they recorded.

WACO doesn’t disappoint, but it’s certainly different. It might be a pick-and-choose album for most hardcore Violent Soho fans, as it lacks the grudge sound that made us fall in love with the band in the first place – but they’ve instilled trust in us by creating this album, and surprised us, intricately, in a way we never thought they might.

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