Dawn Chorus #15: Salad – The Salad Way

Dawn Chorus #15: Salad – The Salad Way

While bands best known for their nineties output reforming and having another crack while surfing the wave of nostalgia is nothing new the return of cult faves Salad is particularly pleasing, especially when album The Salad Way is packed with so much good esoteric indie rock. 

Dawn Chorus header - a recommended album every week day

Salad The Salad Way album coverArtist: Salad
Album: The Salad Way
Label: Three Bean Records
Year of release: 2019
Genre: indie, indie rock

There is a moment in ‘Don’t Expect Things Not To Be Scary’ where it becomes very apparent your suspicion the The Salad Way – the first album from cult nineties band Salad – is a little more than the standard indie fare is absolutely bang on. Here it is the smooth melodic bounce half way through, vocals languorously laid atop, which draws your ear to the detail and the attitude. It’s the best kind of gut-punch to realise you’re listening to an album full of curiosities and quirks, hitting up and scoring high.

This is the first studio album from Salad since 1997 and it marks a comforting return from a cult favourite, with that classic nineties guitar sound at the core but with intriguing experimental roaming, slamming heavier passages and an amused rather than arrogant no fucks given vibe which only comes with age. As a nice segue between then and now Donald Ross Skinner, producer of 1997 album Ice Cream, and live guitarist from that period and all-round indie icon Charley Stone are now full time members of the band alongside Marijne van der Vlugt, Paul Kennedy, and Pete Brown.

Opener and single ‘You Got The Job’ is a punchy sing-a-long which resonates with the London sound of two decades ago without feeling either jaded or self-referential. It bristles with the energy of a band having fun being back together and delighting in the flow of creative juices. But ‘In The Dark’ is a different beast, no slow build of prowess but straight in with blunt force tunage. With a riff Sabbath wouldn’t sniff at it’s a poetic lyrical puzzle ‘in the dark / you’ll find me playing clarinet’ which melodically it does nothing to solve preferring instead to ominously lurch at you.

While there is a constant ‘feel’ across the album musically there is a an abundance of variety. On ‘Your Face’ it’s vocals to the fore, with a gentle and dreamy feel, before ‘Vadim’s Slipper’ brings back a little darkness, swirling and crashing. ‘Under The Wrapping Paper’ introduces itself with anxious piano stabs before it settles into a post-punk half-spoken blank verse vocal and solid chug along, blooming out into more jazz-infused piano and harder guitar later on. ‘Wayward Thinking’ returns once more to indiepop territory, with dual vocals, steady bass, and warm-toned guitar flourishes. More new wave moments on ‘Lovesick Energy’ as intricacies between melody and vocal are explored.

The variety here is staggering without becoming overwhelming. Personal, intelligent, creative and fun; The Salad Way is bold return which may undeservedly slip under the radar of those who write off any artist associated with Britpop. Detailed and devilish this album feels like a watershed of ideas after a period away but whether they follow all the possibilities laid out here or refine and focus they’ve given us a vibrant record into which we can lose ourselves while waiting to see where they take things next.

Dawn Chorus is a week day feature sharing an album to listen to on your morning commute, the school run, or at other times with the intention of surfacing classics you might not have given time to yet, indulging in old favourites, and helping you discover the best of new releases. If you’d like to suggest an album for the feature, or contribute a guest write up on an album you think more people should hear, get in touch

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Sarah Lay

Sarah Lay is editor of Popoptica.
A long-standing music journalist she's also co-founder of independent record label Reckless Yes, an author of novels, and when not messing around with words and music, a digital strategist.
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