Violent Soho are back with their first record in four years called Everything is A-OK, which seems ironic given our current world affairs. The new album was written before the COVID-19 crisis hit the world like a ton of bricks, but you could now make the argument that Everything is A-OK has arrived at just the right time; a moment when we can relate to the themes and ideas scattered throughout the record.
After taking a break following 2016’s Waco to focus on other musical projects, the Australian rockers– consisting of lead singer/guitarist Luke Boerdam, lead guitarist James Tidswell, bassist Luke Henery and drummer Michael Richards – are picking up right where they left off with their new album.
Everything is A-OK opens with “Sleep Year,” a song that has that familiar soft-to-loud sound that Violent Soho has become known for. The track has moments that will remind you of Nirvana’s “Drain You,” as it gets quiet towards the end before exploding into a wall of guitars, drums, and Boerdam shouting “If it makes you happy.” It’s the perfect track to open the album, as it shows Violent Soho is still here, and they haven’t missed a step.
The usual Violent Soho tones continue on “Vacation Forever,” a song that has Boerdam singing about feeling trapped and needing to escape. “Pick It Up Again” is a driving modern grunge song, filled with unrelenting guitars, thundering drums and Boerdam’s vocals about moving on from a past relationship.
“Easy” has the potential to be the band’s next “Covered in Chrome” or “Viceroy.” The track is easily the standout on the album in terms of their harder songs. This song nails everything the band does so well: infectious guitar riffs that absolutely shred and hook you in immediately, while the vocals are somehow both in-your-face at parts and gentle at others “Easy” could be the next Violent Soho classic and should hopefully be a staple of their live shows.
Violent Soho sounds like the band they’ve always been on the record, but you can hear Boerdam touching on themes that are undeniably present in 2020. “Lying on the Floor” has the singer feeling overwhelmed with all the noise in the world, and all he wants to do is what the song’s name spells out. Meanwhile, “Shelf Life” takes a subtle dig at how social media limits the way we interact as people.
While Everything is A-OK has that familiar Violent Soho feel, the band also decides to take some steps outside the box and show they aren’t afraid to experiment with some new types of sounds, riffs, and tones.
The first signs of their experimentation shows up on “Canada.” Boerdam waxes poetic about Canada and how there’s just something calming to him about the country. To match these lyrics, the band surrounds him with a relaxing vibe and a more laid back riff compared to the first three heavy-hitters on the album.
What most likely serves as the best example of the band trying something new, and it working out extremely well is “Slow Down Sonic.” Violent Soho has proved in the past they can successfully pull off slower tracks, like they showed on past songs like “Ok Cathedral” on Hungry Ghost and “Low” off of Waco. However, with “Slow Down Sonic,” the band breaks out a catchy, twangy guitar riff that’s more likely to appear on a country album and not a Violent Soho record. However, this riff makes the track groove along, sounding like a blast from the past of 90’s indie music, and it works well for the band.
Everything is A-OK finishes on a very powerful note with the final track, “A-OK,” which could arguably be the best song the band has ever written. The song touches on themes of avoiding your problems and convincing yourself that everything is fine. The track contains lyrics that are eerily relevant to what has become our everyday battle now. Boerdam sings, “I am on fire, hold my hand / Please don’t leave me here, my friend / Hear the choir, all those songs / I can’t breathe here but I guess we’ll have to share / All the common air.” The way Boerdam sings each vocal on this song, listeners are left with the feeling that maybe, just maybe, this too shall pass.
While this new record proved the band is “A-OK” in 2020, they may have also provided a soundtrack to make sure that all of us will be alright too.