Nuke the Soup’s mildly bohemian “Oceans and Mountains” doesn’t waste our time with a lot of fanciful frills; instead, this track gets right down to the business of plying us with one decadent melody after another. The harmonies that form here are relatively smoky compared to some of the similarly-stylized content I’ve seen attempting to scale the charts in recent times, but I wouldn’t necessarily dub this an homage to old fashioned singer/songwriter balladry. There’s a wry optimism here that is patently modern, and when coupled with the groove of the instrumentation, we get a road trip song that doubles for an introspective ballad.
The video for this track speaks to the pastoralism of the composition more than it does the multi-interpretive narrative in the lyrics, but it’s not all surreal pictures and tones mashed together. Fitting in with the traveling troubadour aesthetic employed in the approach to the swing in the percussion (and the general lyrical approach), we’re whisked away to places unknown, from beaches to forests to deserted highways waiting for our car to come blazing down the road. We’re in the passenger seat while Mark Davison is behind the wheel, and with his smooth driving, we’re not likely to miss any of the scenery around us.
This mix has a great feel to it that further establishes Nuke the Soup as being a no-nonsense melody syndicate if there ever was one. All of the instrumentation feels really light, including the percussion, allowing for the rhythm to glide more than it ever grinds (an ongoing complaint that I have with a lot of alternative folk output coming from the American underground this year). There’s no indulgence on the bottom-end nor the top half of the harmonies, but rather a fluidity to the chemistry between these players that is something to write home about all on its own.
Though Mark Davison is clearly the main star of this show, the compatibility he has with his bandmates in Nuke the Soup is what makes a song like “Oceans and Mountains” ache with as much of an authentic finish as it irrefutably does. He’s never warring with any of the other elements for our attention, but turning over bits and pieces of his emotions that he can’t figure out with linguistics alone and letting his comrades fill in the blanks. It’s a perfect working relationship and a good model for young indie rock crews to follow.
Fans of casual, easygoing folk-rock would be quite wise to give the video for “Oceans and Mountains” a close look this July, if for no other reason than to hit the pause button of the stresses of everyday life and get lost in the visuals of a much more peaceful America. Nuke the Soup, despite the chemically moniker, are nothing but blood and sweat musicians in this release, and in an era that has championed the plasticized more than it has the blue collar singer/songwriters, theirs is most certainly a refreshing sound to come across.