I pride myself in being able to drop the digital needle on almost any virtual disc and broadly understand what is going on and where it fits into the musical landscape. With Vitamin Sea, however, I think that I have met my match. Not that Fresh Cut Salads are doing anything too “out there,” on the contrary, their music is melodic, sweet, fun and, above all, intriguing. It’s just that they don’t seem to be interested in conforming to the fads and fashions that blow around the modern musical community. But that’s where the good stuff happens. Right? That’s what makes them so unique.
There is a real sixties pop vibe driving the songs, a sort of innocence and nostalgia running through most things, to the point that you can’t tell if this is a parody or the real thing. I guess when you become so good at the former it is easy to sound like the latter. Similarly, the songs are laced with humour, but never so much that they are playing for laughs, not in any obvious fashion anyway. So the only conclusion I can come to is that this is the real thing. And once I have accepted that state of affairs I can relax and enjoy the music for what it is. And what it is, is brilliant.
Importance of Gradients is a soothing and strange chamber-pop beast that occasionally explodes into angular and staccato guitars before the vocals give a strange, brief T.E.D. talk on …well, the importance of gradients…I think….and Self Deprecationists is a cross between a Disney film whistle-tune and a cool crooner creation.
There are small bursts of part-songs such as the Latin-soaked lilting of Barracuda! and longer, more exploratory moments such as Dysgitimate Child, a soul-pop groover of no fixed era. Important Sandwich feels like it wanders close to some alternative Simon and Garfunkle territory and Up The Trunk of The Wisdom Tree is a Scott Walker number being sung by a Jewish Wedding Band and there is even some room for some thrashed out garage rock meets mental breakdown with Man.
A quick, sultry R&B blast with Dream Song and you are out the other side and it’s time to take stock of your thoughts. Fresh Cut Salads speak in a language all of their own. Ideas such as comparing a potential lover to a library where you would take out every book and never return a single one is straight out of The Bonzo Dog Band, and we are long overdue a band who could match their wit and wisdom, mirth and madness. Musically they seem to echo bands such as Redd Kross, a band who are so good at pastiche that they sound more real than the originals.
But it doesn’t pay to overthink such things. All you should do is play the record, soak up the charm and fun of their lyrics, the deftness and deliciousness of the music and then repeat the process until you understand what is going on. And if you never reach that point of understanding, keep playing it anyway, after all, what’s life without a little madness and mystique?