While much less twangy than their earlier albums, Maine-based group Coke Weed’s third album Back to Soft maintains the band’s dreamy, psychedelic sound. With the haunting vocals of lead singer Nina Donghia and the resonating guitar that reminds me a little of San Francisco band Thee Oh Sees, Coke Weed’s new album is equal parts trippy and relaxing. Although the steady drum backbeat featured in many of their tracks paired with Donghia’s purr creates the illusion of laid back songs, upon closer inspection, Coke Weed’s lyrics can be pretty intense. Already reaching Internet popularity, the spacey, beachy track “Anklet” starts out with Donghia lazily drawling, “Captivator/You are settling in/I am fixated.” Yikes.
Fans of Coke Weed’s earlier albums, Volume One and Nice Dreams, may be disappointed by the lack of the country-western vibe that was so present in both of the albums preceding Back to Soft. If one listened to “Frizz” off of Volume One and then “Anklet,” they might think the songs were by two entirely different bands if it weren’t for Donghia’s distinguishable drawl. Although I personally prefer the floaty, more heavy on the drums sound of Back to Soft to the band’s previous albums, people who have followed Coke Weed since they formed in 2010 may feel just that–like they’re listening to an entirely different band.
Upon sitting down to write this review, I wrote out several phrases that could describe Coke Weed’s sound. Right after I finished jotting down the non-word “garage-band-y,” I stumbled across an article which informed me that Coke Weed recorded their second and, as previously stated, much more country-infused album Nice Dreams in a barn in only an hour and a half, and that they recorded it live, meaning that any accidental slip-ups in the recording process became part of the album. A band that has the confidence and easy-going attitude to do that is pretty cool indeed in my book. Cross out “garage-band-y” and put “barn band.”
So, if a dreamy, psychedelic, trippy, relaxing barn-band-y musical group with haunting, purring vocals and spacey tracks with intense lyrics sound interesting to you, make sure the next album you illegally download (or honorably purchase on iTunes) is Back to Soft.