Soak is a record that I could see a lot of people really attaching to. It has everything most people could want in an emo/punk record. It has the ability to feel unapologetic and self aware in how it presents itself, a quality that many records that capture hoards of admirers possess. There are a lot of quirky qualities that add a lot of charm to what Guitar Fight from Fooly Cooly are doing here. Whether it be the very brief, yet fun math-rock inspired moments, or the samples from video games from years gone by, Soak is a record that could leave a lot of people drooling and wanting more from the Cleveland, TN (not Ohio) based group.
Soak is a very fun, fast paced listening experience that feels both like a labor of love by the bandmates, but yet it’s lo-fi and sloppy sound keeps it grounded in this reality that there is more going on at the surface of this record that we can’t quite understand. Guitar Fight from Fooly Cooly start their album off in traditional D.I.Y. punk fashion by giving us a triple threat of super hard hitting and fast paced songs, all under 2 minutes of run time. These songs really work well in the context of Soak and really let the listener know that they are in for a hard hitting time full of fun riffs and clever ideas. A standout track from these first three tunes would have to be ‘Middle of Night Middle of Night,’ a track that eases us in with a really cool opening riff and really showcases the understanding that these band members have of one another's playing style. This track is just a really fun time and really does well in making the most of its runtime with its rumbling, yet welcoming tone.
The highlights keep coming in the 4th and 5th spots of this album. The 4th track, ‘4th Gen.’ This song really got me in the right mood and does well at selling the lo-fi garage punk sound that this band is going for. I love how emotional our vocalist gets on this particular song and the guitar playing and rumbling drums really shine and show what is truly capable of. This song just really makes you move and I love that about this particular song and other moments of this song.
I feel like I start to get a little burnt out on this album about halfway through it, as it seems the band has run out of original ideas to sell us at this point. Songs like ‘Ginger Ailment,’ ‘I Hate That Place Dude,’ and ‘Dr. Robot,’ all just take me completely out of this record. I just got really burnt out after listening to these songs back to back to back. There are cool ideas, and I like songs that just work as a wall of fuzz and noise like ‘Ginger Ailment’ but I find the lack of cohesion to be lazy and lack a real purpose on the album as a whole.
The saving grace on this album comes by way of the song, ‘Stay Hydrated, F*** Em.’ Many songs on this record start out as this peaceful, catchy idea and then slowly deteriorate into this face paced, unapologetic ride that catches the listener off guard, and no song does this better on Soak than this one right here. I would love more fun, hard moving tracks such as this one from this band, because this is where I feel as if their signature, unpolished sound can really shine through. This song really saved this record for me and the last two tracks that come after it aren’t too shabby either. I love when this band goes along with a goofy idea you can tell they just dreamt up in a late-night sort of conversation, like on the track ‘Tea and Crumpets.’ The band ends the last minute of their record with this metal inspired breakdown where they are just absolutely whaling out, screaming ‘TEA AND CRUMPETS’ as the guitarist does this super generic metal breakdown. It is just a very fun way to end this album.
While there are many great parts on this album that showcase this band's willingness to really play around with ideas, I can’t help but feel as if a lot of these tracks could have really done more to capture my attention. This is a great example of a very hit or miss album. Do I think you should give this a listen? If you are a fan of very lo-fi sounding punk music, this could very well be one of your favorite albums of the year, but I just think it is missing a couple of mind-bending moments for it to be a must listen for all music fans.
Favorite Tracks: 'Stay Hydrated, F*** Em,' '4th Gen'
Least Favorite Tracks: 'I Hate That Place, Dude,' 'Dr. Robot'
Listen to 'Stay Hydrated, F*** Em' below: