by Justin Kay
They say don’t judge a book by its cover and in the case of Grape Soda‘s debut LP Form a Sign, this old adage rings particularly true. While the cover of the album is awful from an aesthetic point of view, its contents provide the listener with a consistently enjoyable ride from start to finish. By using a less is more type of approach, the duo of brothers Mat (keyboard,vocals) and Ryan (drums) Lewis manage to create an album that utilizes both creativity and simplicity to keep its audience entertained throughout.
Grape Soda keeps it short and sweet on Form a Sign, with most of the tracks lasting about two to three minutes. The positive to this is that they are able to give you good songs while avoiding repeating themselves or dragging anything out to where the listener starts to lose interest. The most impressive thing about this record is how the Lewis brothers blend everything from pop, punk, and ska to reggae and pyschedelic noise into a sound that they can call their own. While the pop element is prevalent throughout the album, Grape Soda is able to avoid using it as a crutch. Instead they rely on solid song writing and the sharp yet vulnerable croon of Mat. The charm of this album remains in its stripped down raw feel and simplistic approach.
The album opens with “Not Mine,” a memorable song that uses an infectious keyboard and driving drums to grab your attention from the beginning. This is easily one of the best songs on the record and an excellent choice to start with. The album quickly transitions into “Reason to Listen,” a lo-fi dance number with an underlying reggae vibe and catchy chorus. The rest of the album continues on, ranging from the ska influenced gems “Smooth Ryder” and “Unaligned” to the spacy, simple and heartfelt song “The Spirit”. The album closes with the sound of fairground organs and theatrical drums in the noise filled” Not Our Time in Time,” and slowly turns into jittery keyboards and screeching noise before finally fading into silence. This song was an excellent choice as the closer because it has a farewell type of feel to it and leaves the listener satisfied at the end.
On this album the Lewis brothers create a set of songs that are different from one another, but still flow well together and stick to the rough framework of catchy organs and drums. While this may be Grape Soda’s debut LP, they have been able to show that they have the ability to write great songs and they have the potential to keep creating great songs. Form a Sign is one of those albums that begs to be listened to more than once and gets better every time. This is a solid album from beginning to end.