Sophomore albums can be difficult to record, especially when the debut preceding them attracted a lot of buzz from critics and fans the same, but in the case of Beneath the Big White Moon, Soup Review make it look and sound all too easy. Following the success of their 2018 rookie effort From the Bed to the Settee (and Back Again), Soup Review stepped back into the studio this year to refine their sound into the most alternative product it could be, and when I listen to tracks like the album’s lead single “Stars in Their Eyes on SSRIs,” I can’t help but applaud their efforts.
There’s a strong kinship between the two principle players behind Soup Review that was obvious in their earliest work, but in “Stars in Their Eyes on SSRIs,” I think it becomes a little easier for us to access as listeners. These are two very unique musicians who rather than trying to vie for the same spotlight in songs like this one instead find a way to complement each other with their distinctive styles, resulting in something born of contradictions and conceptual chemistry alike. That’s a lot harder than it might sound on paper, but you’d never know that here.
I definitely detect some vintage punk influences in “Stars in Their Eyes on SSRIs” that I didn’t notice prior to sitting down with this single and its music video just this past weekend, likely because of their subtlety in the big picture. I absolutely think Soup Review are collective fans of John Roderick’s solo work, as well as his contributions to The Long Winters, as well as the Violent Femmes, as evidenced by both the compositional integrities of this song and the general moodiness of the narrative here. They’re not worn on the duo’s sleeve, but forerunners to the sound we find in this track are clearly important to them.
While I don’t usually endorse this heavy of a bass presence for the kind of song Soup Review were trying to produce with this latest single, I can understand the aesthetic they were incorporating for sure. Though indebted to the black and white construct of indie folk, they want to throw some weight around sonically in their second album, and this track is probably the greatest example of the duality they’ve worked so diligently to create. Tighter mixing will accentuate the formula better in the future, but for now, this is an amazing stage of their evolution.
Soup Review prove that indie rock duos aren’t dead in “Stars in Their Eyes on SSRIs,” and for a critic like myself, this alone makes their most recent single and its music video essential acquisitions this November. I’m pleased with how quickly they’ve been able to come into their own, and even with all of the difficulties facing the music industry in 2020 withstanding, they aren’t showing any signs of slowing down here – the exact opposite, really. They’ve won my respect, and I’d have to assume they’ll win yours sooner than later.
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