Local Review: SoulFang – Passions, Potions, Wicked Lullabies

Local Music Reviews

Passions, Potions, Wicked Lullabies
SexyMetallic Records
Street: 06.21
SoulFang = Heart + Screaming Females + Sleater-Kinney

Who says that sex, drugs and rock ‘n’ roll can’t be as tender as a sultry caress? Not SoulFang, that’s for sure. On their debut album, Passions, Potions, Wicked Lullabies, the local four-piece alloys high-octane alt-rock with soulful vocals, sensual lyrics and vulnerable themes. The outcome is a hard rock LP that is equal parts sexy, poignant and badass. 

The record’s first track, “Wildfire,” opens with drummer Chris ‘Squid’ Stilling counting everyone in as if we’re seeing SoulFang perform in a smokey dive bar. The song then erupts with Henry Robertson’s sizzling guitar and Sam Robertson’s (no relation) gutsy bass. Finally, Liz Seibert, the group’s intoxicating vocalist, crystalizes the sonic tableau with the album’s opening lyrics, “Once upon a time / Burning with a fury / Vibrant and explosive and alive.”

The rest of the LP largely sticks to a similarly retro alt-rock backbone with hefty drum beats, crisp and potent riffs, robust basslines and bewitching vocals. But the record never feels tired or predictable, partly because SoulFang draws from such a wide variety of influences. At times, like the chorus of “Rollercoaster,” they channel Audioslave. At others, they evoke bands as disparate as Slayer, No Doubt and Rush. It also helps that they occasionally break up all the party rocking with loungey and ethereal interludes, such as the album’s transcendent first single “Chemical Meditation” or the racy and tender love song “Coming Home With Me.” 

The record could easily rest on the band’s musical virtuosity alone, but SoulFang isn’t just a bunch of kick-ass rockers. There must be a poet or two in there as well, because the LP’s evocative and thematically broad lyrics complement and enhance the music instead of just filling the space between guitar solos. 

One of the album’s most common lyrical motifs is unbridled sexuality. “Midnight Queen,” for example, explicitly discusses things like Grindr and internet porn, and the sardonic sixth track, “I’m Your Drug,” tells the story of a “pussy-destroyer” who gets what he deserves when he becomes helplessly addicted to one particular woman. The crowning jewel of all this carnal lyricism is “Sunday Afternoon,” a jazzy ballad about two women who, unbeknownst to their boyfriends, meet on the weekend for a steamy rendezvous.  

And while getting laid is the LP’s most prevalent theme, it’s far from the only one. The album also grapples with more difficult topics like psychedelic therapy (“Chemical Meditation”), the way the interminable hours grind on the human soul (“Clockwork”) and what happens when a person’s inherent fragility is met with the indifference of a loved one (“Made of Glass”).

Few bands can satisfactorily cover so much thematic ground in a mere 12 tracks, but SoulFang pulls it off beautifully and leads the listener to genuine catharsis on many sensitive subjects. 

The record is available to stream everywhere good artists get paid too little for their work, but I highly recommend adding the limited edition vinyl to your collection if it’s still available. It includes four tracks which don’t appear on streaming services, and these vinyl exclusives really put SoulFang’s range on full display. Three of the songs are stirring acoustic versions of the album’s best tracks, including a lovely piano-centric rendition of “Chemical Meditation.” The fourth bonus song, titled “Deep Dark Waves,” is a folk ballad about a lover who’s as treacherous and mysterious as a stormy ocean.

What’s especially rad about the extended vinyl cut is that it’s book-ended by different versions of “Wildfire,” a song about passionately burning, becoming ash and then returning someday as the inferno you once were. The first iteration of the song feels like the blaze while the second feels like the wistful embers left behind which promise to ignite once again. This arrangement is pretty damn clever, and it leaves you with the haunting desire to listen to the whole LP again and again. 

If you aren’t sold on the vinyl release yet, I’ll also mention that the records themselves are purple. So… whether you stream Passions, Potions, Wicked Lullabies on your smartphone or you give it a spin on your turntable—as God intended—expect a vigorous and intimate thrillride that dials the fun to eleven and then freights you through every mood between elation and yearning. –Joe Roberts

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