2017 will mark twenty years since Karl Smith and Pete Cohen started up their homespun duo, Sodastream. Releasing four albums, four EPs, and a live record during their original lifespan, Sodastream left an indelible mark on Australian music. Now they’ve returned with Little by Little, their first album in a decade, continuing to refine their craft while sounding just as fresh and intimate as ever. Sodastream always ran deeper than most when it came to emotionally complex storytelling, and their new material thrives just as much on the play between darkness and light.
The first single from the album is “Three Sins”, you can watch the video BELOW. The track has been described by Karl Smith like this:
“I first started thinking about the lyrics that would become Three Sins way back in 2006 when we were working on songs for our third album Reservations. Back then I was thinking a lot about what goes on in people’s minds that isn’t talked about; their primal urges, hidden desires and beliefs. I wanted to explore what makes some people act on these things, while others don’t. At the time, there was a lot of talk about terrorism in the news, and the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan were rolling on. The sexual abuse scandal in the Catholic Church was slowly coming out into the open, and the summer bushfires were tearing across our landscapes. As I thought about it, I realised that the firebugs, the paedophile priests and the suicide bombers had a lot in common. They all inflicted untold suffering on completely random, innocent people for no other reason than to satisfy their own desires and beliefs. So what was originally going to be a song about an individual suddenly became a study of three… and as I got under the skin of the characters, the stories flowed out.”
From the start of their career, Sodastream won over fans as prominent as radio legend John Peel and music icon Moby, who named their 1998 EP Practical Footwear “Single of the Week” in Melody Maker. Following in the footsteps of kindred spirits The Go-Betweens and The Triffids, the duo carted their respective guitar and upright bass around the globe, making crucial in-roads to Europe, continuing that strong tradition of Antipodean indie music abroad. The pair shared the stage with Pavement, Yo La Tengo, Smog, Low, and The Mountain Goats, while Belle & Sebastian personally invited them to play at the Bowlie Weekender (the first-ever All Tomorrow’s Parties festival).
At home in Australia Sodastream were even more revered, building on an incredibly loyal fanbase with each of their four albums: Look s Like a Russian (2000), The Hill for Company (2001), A Minor Revival (2003), and Reservations (2006), released domestically and internationally via labels such as Rough Trade, Darla, Trifekta, Candle, Drive‐in, Fortuna POP! and Acuarela Discos. During the band’s subsequent hibernation, their own legacy helped foster a flourishing Aussie guitar-pop scene that now includes Twerps, Dick Diver, and The Ocean Party – thoughtful, articulate pop bands that understand they don’t have to rock out to make an impact. Following a six-year break, during which Karl released an acclaimed solo album and both members immersed themselves in their growing families, Sodastream resumed with a humble few shows and the promise of new material.
Recorded gradually over three years, Little by Little immediately re-establishes Sodastream’s haunting clarity, both lyrically and musically. Working again with repeat producer and drummer Marty Brown (Clare Bowditch, Art of Fighting), the pair enlisted additional embellishment from J Walker (Machine Translations), Tom Lyngcoln (Harmony, The Nation Blue), and Kelly Lane (Skipping Girl Vinegar), among other luminaries from Australia’s rich field of independent musicians.
Never ones to rush things, Sodastream have quietly bided their time since reconvening in 2013, working away at an album that could be their best yet. That’s not hyperbole – Little by Little honours Karl and Pete’s profoundly nuanced discography even as it stretches out into masterful new terrain.
One-Off UK Live Date:
Friday 24 March – Islington Assembly Hall