With If I Never Know You Like This Again, SOAK’s Bridie Monds-Watson (they/ them) have shaken the hangover of their starry Mercury-nominated debut Before We Forgot How To Dream and their ambitious follow-up album Grim Town, and the pressures that came with them. Having written much of their new album when time felt at its slowest, Bridie, who has always had an obsessive need to document each chapter of their life, now makes a marvel of the mundane.
Alongside long-time collaborator Tommy McLaughlin (he/him), the two wrote most of the album together while listening obsessively to indie bands like Broken Social Scene and Pavement and Radiohead’s classic album The Bends. They honed in on this new riff-led, mid-90s sound, “nerding out on guitars and pedals like moronic bros” before recording it with the rest of the band in Attica Studios in Donegal. Previous SOAK albums had either been recorded remotely or by just two people, but If I Never... sees all the members of SOAK in the studio simultaneously. After being away from each other for the majority of the pandemic, it was important to create the record as a band, and the joyful energy of having everyone in the same room again is palpable.
On If I Never..., SOAK’s brilliant melodies are on full display. Lead single “Last July” features a masterfully off-kilter vocal set against swooning guitars, creating a lush pop song that wouldn’t be out of place in the end credits of a 90s coming-of-age film. Lyrically, Bridie manages to be both playful and self-aware. The idea of identity is central to the record, and Bridie’s lyrics are as deeply personal as they are universal. “This record is the most accurate picture of me. I felt no pressure at all, it was almost like I was ranting as I was writing,” they explain. Bridie’s memories string together to create intimate vignettes of a life richly lived. Tapping into their specific experiences, the result is a record that is deeply relatable and sparkling, as it traverses the ups and downs of their journey to becoming a fully realized person.