A Seamless Listening Experience
With their eighth album, FROM DEEWEE, Soulwax have managed to put together a project that flows seamlessly from song to song. If anything can be said about Soulwax it’s that they have a knack for writing a complete album. The transitions from song to song fit so perfectly because Soulwax recorded the album in only one take with the assistance of three drummers. The sounds on FROM DEEWEE are influenced by the past, yet are entirely new. They are rock-inspired, yet they have an unmistakable electronic flavor. Soulwax have delivered an album with great instrumentation and innovative vocal delivery and playing. However, it is also not without its faults. Soulwax’s last album Nite Versions was released to critical acclaim 12 years ago in 2005. In the 12 years since Soulwax have definitely changed their sound, but in some ways it is a step back from their earlier material. FROM DEEWEE has a much more industrial flavor to it that makes some of the songs less enjoyable to listen to over time. On Nite Versions they definitely wore their rock influence on their sleeves, but they still created tracks that were upbeat and fun to dance too. On this new album they don’t succeed on that front nearly as much.
FROM DEEWEE has a loose theme of existentialism and machinery that carries through, but the focus is rarely on the words or the meaning that the songs aim to express. This album is all about the soundscapes and the mood that they create. Songs like “Masterplanned” and “Do You Want to Get Into Trouble?” touch lightly upon the album’s themes with the vocals, while simultaneously driving home their emotional impact with intricate production, full of the synths that in which Soulwax are proficient. “Do You Want to Get Into Trouble?” shows more of their rock side with its rumbling guitars, while “Masterplanned” shows their techno roots in full force. Another great song near the beginning of the album is “Missing Wires.” The catchy melody and lighter tone of this song help it to stand out as a more danceable track. That’s not to say it is the only one, though. “Is It Always Binary” features a punchy beat that builds up during the track’s entire duration. It’s definitely one of the most high-energy cuts featured on the album.
With that said, some aspects of Soulwax’s album are more half-baked than others. The vocal performances and the voice effects that go along with them are good for the most part, but occasionally the lyrics are difficult to understand or jumbled under the weight of the other pieces of the song. On “My Tired Eyes,” this definitely is noticeable, as the words occasionally become unintelligible. And it’s a shame the singing on this song isn’t a little clearer because it is otherwise a great track with slow, contemplative pacing to match its title. Soulwax’s main focus is understandably not to create a vocal masterpiece, but it’s still unfortunate they did not put more thought into making sure their lyrics could be understood.
Even with some vocal missteps here and there, Soulwax have definitely created a worthy project with FROM DEEWEE. The fusion of rock and electronic works on every track and serves to give them a unique sound. Hopefully, Soulwax keep creating great music in the future. On their next project, it would be impressive if they could make a cohesive story that spans the album because they definitely know how to put interesting themes in their work.