Soko has always been different. Her debut EP, Not Sokute, introduced her as an exceptional wit with one of those rare voices that conveyed the full and often messy spectrum of human emotion. Her sincere, childlike singing and songwriting never meshed with contemporary pop’s overconfident and uber-polished standard, making her a breath of self-conscious and lo-fi air from the start.
Neither a girl nor a grown woman back in 2007 or even now in 2015, Soko inhabits the bizarre territory between all grown up and completely naïve. She is the most mature ingénue on the planet. Her sophomore album, My Dreams Dictate My Reality, confirms her citizenship in such territory. Assisted by Ross Robinson’s (The Cure, Korn) excellent production, Soko exhibits notable growth while maintaining the youthful and secretly subversive perspective that made Not Sokute and her debut full-length album, I Thought I Was an Alien, so affecting.
Most affecting here is Soko’s willingness to sing about whatever she wants. She throws lyrical inhibition to the wind, waxing poetic on the stupid questions people ask lesbians (namely, “But which one of you is the man?”), the end of the world, casting spells on an ex’s house, and mermaids.
Find the first subject on the hilariously wry “Who Wears the Pants??” Backed by punkish guitar, Soko’s takedown of aforementioned dumb questions and blatant homophobia – “But in the eyes of God, no matter what, it’s a disgrace!” she shrieks in mock horror – make for a devastatingly witty track. No doubt an individual of many talents, Soko excels at lacking patience for bullshit.
She also excels at flying all over the place, switching emotions and lovers and influences with fearless abandon. On “Temporary Mood Swings,” she ricochets between being a pants-wetting genius and “an anti-social mess.” This standout track might as well describe the entire album. Her inner genius swirls 60s girl group ooh-aahs, a 70s ELO-inspired chorus, a saucy bassline and Ariel Pink into the spectacular if somewhat creepy “Lovetrap.” The artist as an anti-social mess crawls out of her cave to avoid growing up on the gloomy “Peter Pan Syndrome.” And a cautiously emboldened woman attempts to cope in a ludicrous world on the fabulous, Cure-esque “Ocean of Tears.”
Simultaneously a fist in the air and a punch to the gut, My Dreams Dictate My Reality is, for lack of a better term, everything. Soko’s second record is for the people, whether the people are pissed off, over it, falling in love, falling out of love, hitting rock bottom, or just looking for a good time. But fear not, those who believe consistency is key. Her signature vulnerability, goth-pop sound and evocative vocals never falter, uniting the album as she shoots out in multiple directions. So listen and love – no matter your mood.