Album review: Salad – The Salad Way by Ngaire Ruth

Fucking Salad what a stupid name for a band with such an impossible personality. You have to actually listen – it takes up all your thoughts and sexy bits and there’s no way getting off the whirlybird until someone takes your headphones off to ask if you want a cup of tea.

It’s not often I’m compelled to impose subjective emotional responses on to an album anymore, but here’s my professional opinion: how will the streaming sites categorise The Salad Way? How many genres will be picked to describe the twists and turns of its abstract world, pushed into accomplished contemporary compositions that could easily belong to bands like The Pretenders. Will they just get an indie rock or indie pop label, and be lumped in with the 75% that live on the internet and never get heard? Oh, for shame when there are even hints of Gong vocalist/collaborator Gilli Smyth (poet, writer), in there for me.

“In the dark, you’ll hear me playing clarinet,” chimes Marijne. (‘In The Dark’)

It’s bets all-around here about names of the mood playlists they’ll pop up on, perhaps a better chance for The Salad Way because of each track’s unique personality. Hipster Yoga? No. Chips & Salsa? Yes. Library Sounds? Yes. EDM Cycles? Don’t know. Wayward Thinking? An actual song title on The Salad Way. Morning Smoothies? (Thinking…) Don’t Expect Things Not To Be Scary? Another The Salad Way title. Under The Wrapping Paper? Song title. ‘Details’. Yes!

Everything matters all of the time from the start to finish of a Salad song, so even the humour, the accomplished pop musicality or a fair promise that a song’s going to give in to rocking out,  is not enough razzle-dazzle to keep our noses out of their treasure (Marijne van der Vlug’s deeply personal songs and singing). Take ‘Vadim’s Slipper’ or ‘Merryland’, Marijne is painting swathes of thick oil paint onto a tiny section of a bigger picture, adding swirls and twirls; checks back to see we’re looking. Digging deeper – someone has to – and so ending up with a pure, clean toon, ‘Your Face’; makes a room feel clean again.

If this was the first time around when the industry understood them as cultural capital, (at the time of the hit debut album, Drink Me, 1996),  then the first track would be ‘Welcome To My World’, and they’d give it some oomph at the live shows. They don’t need to – with music media backing from both Mojo and Q, among others.

Word is getting around, Vintage, in relation to the rock and indie legacy, shouldn’t mean a massive celebration of what went before in the form of reunion gigs, timed before Christmas (every 90s indie-pop star has shopping like the rest of us), or summer holidays (ditto). No one ever stopped creating around here – artists, musicians and writers are multi-disciplinary. H/T to all the members of Salad, Skin of Skunk Anansie, Corin Tucker and Carrie Brownstein of Sleater-Kinney, and riot grrrl elder Janet Weiss.

If the worst is true, that is, we’re all just in a loop, hopeless peasants with our popular culture fixations giving us a reason to spend money (and work), and have fun (ready to be back at work on Monday), then at least let’s support the intelligent stuff when it slips through.

Buy The Salad Way

Salad play at the Starshaped Britpop Festival –  7 September @ O2 Newcastle, 14 September @ O2 Birmingham, 22 September @ O2, Forum, Kentish Town

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