Review: SOAK – Before We Forgot How To Dream

“Be a nobody/just like me” Bridie Monds-Watson urges in her début album as SOAK. Rather than a totally brand new bunch of songs, Before We Forgot How To Dream is newer tracks plus a highlights reel of the first few years of the Northern Irish singer; only just 19. It’s a stunning portfolio, if you will, of short stories that manage to perfectly capture the teenage experience without sounding… well, like a teenager.

Though the 14 tracks could perhaps afford to be a little tighter, it’s the album I wish I’d had when I was 18 and nothing made any sense. The record reads like the mind of an adolescent – a jumble of musings on friends, parents and relationships mixed in with more existential issues.

Two successful EPs before this album, leading to a spot at last year’s Glastonbury on the BBC Introducing stage, haven’t pressured Bridie into taking any more commercially-minded routes: she’s trucking on with her dreamy, scratchy voice and tinkly melodic guitar as ever before.

Occasionally the dreaminess takes itself too far and everything verges on too breathy and ethereal, but for the most part it’s the shiver-inducing element of her music; so exquisitely simple.

SOAK knows she’s got time and room to develop, and this album is itself a catalogue of her progression over the last few years – the potential in the record is obvious and lends itself to comparisons as ambitious as Joni Mitchell or Cat Power; not completely unfounded either.

She’s refreshingly authentic – not thrusting her youth upon the listener but at the same time not pretending to be older and wiser than her years, and it’s how almost obliviously fragile she is that gives this debut its staying power.

‘Before We Forgot How To Dream’ is out now via Rough Trade.

Watch: SOAK – Sea Creatures

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