After an absence of almost two decades, UK alt-rockers Salad have returned to take on the world “The Salad Way” with their long-awaited new LP. From their formation in 1992, until the day they decided to disband in 1998, Salad had released two records: their 1995 debut, Drink Me, and its successor, 1997’s Ice Cream. Now, with an amended new line-up, Salad is back on the menu.
Performing acoustically as a duo from 2016 onwards under the name Salad Undressed, vocalist (and former MTV Europe veejay) Marijne van der Vlugt and guitarist/backing vocalist Paul Kennedy had an itch they needed to scratch. Enlisting the help of long-time collaborator Donald Ross Skinner to provide new beats, original bassist Pete Brown for his infectious groove, and 96-98 touring guitarist Charley Stone for her searing guitar riffs, Salad’s comeback album is a combination of quality ingredients that has resulted in a fresh, varied sound that extends beyond the usual lexicon of established Brit-pop genre conventions.
This isn’t a record to appease existing herbivores; nor is it an attempt in Brit-pop revival. I doubt Marijne or the rest of the band really give a shit. Instead, The Salad Way is thirteen tracks of relentless post-punk infused with renewed collaborative creativity. Opening with their latest single, ‘You Got The Job’, Salad re-establish themselves as purveyors of buoyant pop melodies, underpinned here by a sense of romantic insecurity. “The golden kisses of summer keep me going through winter / I store them up in my treehouse… You got the job!”
‘In The Dark’ sees Salad meets Sabbath with scuzzy guitar hooks, doom-like drum strikes, and a more relaxed tempo, before Marijne lays into Paul for rambling on during a radio interview preceding the abrasive third art-punk track, ‘Details’. “I’m sick of all your details!” Don’t worry though, guitar ballad ‘Your Face’ offers us much needed breathing space… That is until Salad begin pummelling us in said face with ‘Vadim’s Slipper’, a track that sees both Marijne and Paul writing outside of their comfort zone.
Next, Marijne goes full throttle on keyboards for ‘Merryland’, tackling the fantastical with inescapable energy. “There was a place called Merryland / I used to live there / Picked up the keys from a Killer Whale / Two eyes, no legs, big grin…” Scratchy guitar solos punctuate this disastrous tale of marine life before the band transition to the more personal ‘Welcome To My World’ – a song which touches upon Marijne’s arrival to the United Kingdom as an adolescent: “In 1978 / New language on my plate / Difficult to relate / Welcome to my world.”
Flipping over to Side B, Salad continue to surprise with ‘Don’t Expect Things Not To Be Scary’, fusing syncopated funk basslines with rhythmic guitars to create mad musical science: one-third disco anthem, and two-thirds freak dance party. A pulsating bassline dominates first single, ‘Under The Wrapping Paper’ – a post-punk opus inspired tongue-firmly-in-cheek by the music fanatics’ clothing of choice. “I worry about child labour / But I needed a t-shirt / Put it in a paper bag / You can recycle that later.”
‘The Inside Of My Head’ is an honest acceptance of weakness; a melancholic insight to the headspace of the band, whilst the remaining three tracks – ‘Wayward Thinking’, ‘Lovesick Energy’, and album closer ‘Time To Escape’ – perfectly exemplify what ‘The Salad Way’ is: a continuous stream of weird and wonderful consciousness, propelled by a rocket-powered expulsion of creative energy. But most importantly? The Salad Way is that thing called rock and roll, and the band came to fumigate your soul.
The Salad Way is out 30th August via Three Bean Records.
Photo Credit: Tim Topple