Review: SoKo – I Thought I Was An Alien

I Thought I Was an Alien is an honest, elegiac expression of the pains of love, loss and aging. SoKo’s debut album deals so explicitly and vividly with these themes of love and loneliness that it makes for quite a challenging and intense listen, despite her deceptive utilisation of soft instrumentation. Set against a backdrop of gentle strokes of violins, delicate guitar picking and a soft backbeat, SoKo’s clear emphasis is upon the subject of her songs: her solemn lyrics. Her music refers subtly to her influences, amongst others, Elliot Smith and Cat Power.

No More Home, No More Love features SoKo’s beautiful rasp; she croons her despondency delicately against the stripped back, folk-tinged acoustic. The song’s melancholy tells of her forced maturity, she realises that she no longer has a home, a base to crash, she must compromise herself so as not to become an imposing nuisance. Her tentative, half-whispered song seems a story of her loss of confidence, the loss of herself with her seemingly newly discovered age, “you’re way stronger when you’re younger, just have to learn it all again”.  At just over two minutes, No More Home, No More Love is a subtle, beautifully honest blues number.

First Love Never Die, with a disjointed, changing backbeat, periods of slow paced, drum-machine is interlaced with a simple electric riff, is at times light-hearted, “I feel like walking, do you feel like coming? I feel like talking cause, it’s been a long time”. It tells of two people reunited, happily but with the underlying feeling that “something has changed, you’re almost a man, four years and i still cry sometimes, first love never die”. SoKo’s clever lyricism confronts directly the pains of growing apart from someone you once knew – something that will resonate with a lot of listeners.

Don’t You Touch Me is another stand out track, it begins with a resonating, slightly echoed guitar riff, which to me is quite reminiscent of the distinctive opening chords to Cat Power’s Cross Bones Style. SoKo’s voice, starting out as a delicate, whisper begins to strain beautifully, and builds dramatically to a rock crescendo, a heavy drum beat ensues. She cleverly uses the previously unheard heavy beat of a drum to stimulate and surprise her audience; the beat and the clash of the symbol are momentous. SoKo uses this profound contrast to the rest of the album as a significant representation of her anger and shock at the touch of her man.

Although I Thought I Was An Alien contains some quite tedious tracks such as How Are You, Destruction Of The Disgusting Ugly Hate, and Happie Hippie Birthday, perhaps this is the Bob Dylan fan in me. The naive and direct story-telling of Happie Hippie Birthday may resonate strongly and happily with fans of The Mouldy Peaches. It is a bitter-sweet debut album, at times very quirky and light-hearted, in You Have a Power On Me and First Love Never Die. SoKo’s debut exhibits her aptitude for explicitly and clearly demonstrating her emotions through clever lyricism. It gives a good indication of what might come to be in future albums.

Catherine Gough