Bridie Monds-Watson’s third album ‘If I Never Know You Like This Again’ is propelled by one of the most relentless forms of renewable energy known to mankind: anxiety. Across the album’s 10 tracks, the Derry songwriter contemplates their place in the world, their achievements, and failures and whether they will be satisfied with those accomplishments as they take their last breath.
Previous album ‘Grim Town’ found Soak shaking off the shackles of expectations following the award-winning din that surrounded their debut, with a grungy thump proclaiming, “this I who I am, deal with it”. The righteous swagger of ‘Grim Town’ is distilled further still as Monds-Watson doubles down on their ‘90s alt-rock influences, cranking out bigger riffs and bigger solos than ever before, with clear nods to the likes of Pavement and Radiohead on tracks such as Last July and Neptune, while Purgatory even features the sound of drummer James Byrne jumping on his kit.
This free-spirited approach to creating music percolates through all aspects of the album. Monds-Watson’s trademark observational lyrics have never been wittier, taking aim at virtue signalling fake vegetarians. However, their bullshit detector never veers too far from themselves, with the harshest criticisms always reserved for their own failings.
The thematic threads of listlessness during the churn of young adulthood ooze throughout the album as Monds-Watson weaves moments of time together to create collages of hope and despair which, when combined, create a snapshot of what it is like being 25 in the ‘20s as the old roadmaps to success crumble before our eyes.
How do you find your way in a world that’s dominated by people from the last century? A world consumed by outdated political principles? You hold on to now as tightly as you can because tomorrow is too difficult to comprehend, but also too difficult to ignore.
Whatever happens next, Soak will always have these moments before everything got too serious.