Demob Happy – Dream Soda

Demob Happy have released their hook busting debut LP today titled ‘Dream Soda‘. The question remains though, is the hotly tipped band worthy of Dream Soda, or, is it more the nightmare of a flat coke? What’s for certain is Demob Happy have a knack of knowing their genre, knowing their sound and doing it to an exceptional level. However, does it all just feel a bit like an anti-climax, a bit like a passing breeze, is it relevant? Does it matter?

Demob Happy are a band that have a sound down to a tee. It’s the scuzzy grunge alley feel, catching all the muck and mire along the way. Their live shows are gigantic and synonymous with the good fun that Brighton crowds treat this group too and vice-versa. Their shows at BLEACH and The Haunt in the past 12 months were spectacular to say the least. Furthermore, the escapist ideology presented within a) the title ‘Dream Soda’ (picture it, a dream washed in the American slang for fizzy pop – the youthful expression of The Free Country) and b) the lyrics; see ‘Young and Numb’, ‘Wash It Down’ and ‘Haat De Stank’ are something that fall into the liberal identity Brighton maintains. How does this pin Demob Happy down though?  This LP comes across incredibly frustrating at times, it has it’s marks of brilliance but, it appears so one dynamic…

As mentioned, they have their sound that they can do and, mark my word, do to a fantastic level. But throughout the entire 50 minutes (a fairly long play), they rarely move from the norm, they rarely test the water. Bar ‘Man You’re Wrong’ and ‘Underneath Your Tree’, it becomes a full throttle propel through garage-rock with tinges of grunge. So fast, so heavy, and so quick that you barely have time to appreciate the individual songs as it becomes a blur, each song runs into the next, it never offers you a chance of reflection or a break – this leading for no chance to think “gee, that song was really good, let’s play it again’. Essentially, it lacks the ear worm. The hooks spattered throughout Dream Soda are great, do not underestimate the power of ‘Junk DNA’, ‘Suffer You’ or ‘Summer Cash In’. Nor, do not underestimate the power of drummer Tom’s power, see songs such as the eponymous ‘Dream Soda’ and ‘Succubus’. Both possess the tempo of Eagles of Death Metal and the power of early Kings of Leon.

It however, seems to of been released at least eight months too late. The whole grunge thing that was spilled and splashed around Brighton like a used fifth hand ragdoll over the past couple of years, bringing the likes of The Wytches, Tigercub and now Demob Happy to the forefront of contemporary British music feels all a little dated now. Yes, grunge had it’s time and it was great, but only for a period. Grunge seems to have it’s audience, the lovers and adorers of the genre that are utter devotees – however for the mass, it is a fashion almost that is syncretic with the clothing and ideology.  Testament to the dating nature of this genre is the fact that a fair few of Dream Soda’s songs – Suffer You, Succubus, Young and Numb and Wash It Down – were all previously released. Furthermore, for attendees to the live shows over the past year, you’ve probably heard another four on top of this. In addition, the lyrical content is interesting. It is largely a critique of consumerism, political agendas and a social commentary. All this social critique is great but, it just seems a little too pretentious and narcissistic. It gives the adolescent ‘fuck the world’ image but it comes across like the irritating student who feels they know the world back to front and now want to talk at you about their opinion on why Britain is such a bad place right now. Obviously over a glass of red wine which is paid for by their student loan.

So where does this leave Dream Soda? It’s not bad by any stretch, not for what you’d expect from Demob Happy. It is exactly what it says on the tin, there are no surprises, there is no immediate originality. If you want to listen to the obvious influences – Queens of the Stone Age et al, you can get the same experience from them. Personally, it could have been shorter, 12 songs is long for an album that has revealed so much previously. It may have added more dynamism, it may have added more immediate appeal. Still, that is a decision not necessarily made by us. So maybe it isn’t quite a dream, or a soda. It perhaps falls into the lukewarm, slightly opened can of soda, similarly, not quite a dream, but more a lucid hangover.

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