Soldier Rye – Antenna – Album Review
Four-plus years! It was back in 2014 when Soldier Rye officially stepped into the scene with the release of his record Earth Sentence, pumping out the songs he’d been working on for the couple years prior. Some of you regular readers of our pages here might remember somewhere back in 2015, I lent a hand to a remix of the video for his stellar single “Boomerang” from the Earth Sentence album – I’ve always been a fan of Soldier Rye’s fusion-based multi-dimensional style of music since I heard it for the first time. So while it might be tempting to ask where the heck he’s been for the past four years…I think I’d honestly rather just start with a plain ol’ sincere ‘Soldier Rye, it’s great to have ya back brother.’
It’s definitely been a while…but let’s not forget, bands like Tool make you wait like ten years between records. As long as they don’t induce some sort of panic by seeming like they’re not coming back – you should be more than fine with your favorite artist/band taking the time they need with their art & music – and if it leads to results as tight as you’ll find on Soldier Rye’s Antenna…believe me, people will wait.
And besides all that…if you have a read of his social-media & website details, you’ll know that it was only ever a matter of time before he’d return…the man has been addicted to making music since day one!
The smooth vibe & electro-beat that he opens the record with on the album’s title-tune “Antenna” is extremely inviting to listen to, and the way the music expands into the chorus is even more enticing. I like the lyrics he’s got going on and how they play with the idea of communication, relationships, & love on several levels. The atmospheric sound quickly brings you into the song and the flow of the verse fits like a glove – if anything, he’s out-written himself from verse to chorus on this first track; I’m not opposed to the hooks he’s working with on the chorus, but it’s the verse that pulled me into “Antenna.” I’ve always been a fan of the way Soldier Rye mixes the sound of his voice – it was great to hear that signature aspect of his style was perfectly intact here four years later…I think it adds tons of character into his music overall & his stellar vocals are always a major factor in what draws us all in to listen. The way that “Antenna” moves, builds, and evolves as you listen is as much evidence as your ears should need to know that the thought has been put in to how this record is going to flow from beginning to end; the structure of this first song already displays that flexibility in sound & dynamic movement that plays a massive role in keeping us entertained through every twist, turn, and transition.
“Antenna” also gives Soldier Rye plenty of room to shift the energy on the album as he takes the music into the uplifting sound of “Cookie Cutter.” Best way I can put it, is to say that, while some people may/may-not respond to each and every part of the record’s title-track at the very beginning – what you’ll hear on “Cookie Cutter” is just about as universal as a song can possibly be. Like, there’s just no way that anyone could resist the energy & vibe of this cut – every piece of this song flows straight into your ears without resistance, gliding on stunning Pop-inspired hooks that truly deliver on their potential. Talk about a single-worthy tune – the sound of this jazzy electro-groove is absolutely fantastic. Putting a real highlight upfront on Antenna, you get real insight into the man that is Soldier Rye and what drives him…the insatiable vibe on “Cookie Cutter” will absolutely have you coming back ravenously for more. Impressive production, even more impressive performance – Soldier Rye’s written himself a hit just waiting to happen with “Cookie Cutter” – that’s a fresh sound that people are certain to respond to. It’s got a real celebration of what makes music great goin’ on throughout the energy…you want to turn this song up as loud as you can possibly turn the dial on your stereo system…because “Cookie Cutter” really makes you feel GOOD…a track like this is designed to put some bounce & a smile right into your day.
Soldier Rye’s roll continues on – “Time Waits For No One” is freakin’ genius. Lyrically, it’s one of my favorites – but performance-wise it certainly is as well. Soldier Rye’s professional approach & patience with this song is remarkable…his pace & the use of space make these words sink in deep & make an impact. The entire vibe is brilliantly compelling to listen to…the added layer of haunting mystique that flows so strongly through the atmosphere of this tune, is seriously gripping. I really think he’s created a powerful track in this one – each movement he makes in the music and on the mic is so precise & on-point. The beautiful backing vocals add even more depth to the dreamy flow of eerie sound on “Time Waits For No One” – it might be a single later on…the potential is definitely there; probably best to keep this one under wraps and let a few of the shinier tunes on this record draw in the crowd, but unleashing this more heavier concept out there into the world with the right video could certainly make an impact. Every time “Time Waits For No One” came on it stood out to me…and that definitely tells me he’s onto something with this cut. There’s no doubt that by comparison, this track is one of the largest departures from what you might consider to be the overall vibe of the atmospheres & sound on this record – but talk about strength in diversity! This song works. It WORKS. It works so well that words don’t do it justice truthfully – Soldier Rye has dug deep to create a song that’ll seriously last and the further he went, the more success it seemed to bring out…this is a meaty tune that’ll hold up over time for sure.
“Tomorrow” has another exceptional blend of sound & style expertly fused together. Slightly jazzy with hints of funk & R&B, detectable island-vibes and a great contrast of uplifting sound & thought-provoking lyrics to go with it all? Sign me up! Soldier Rye is a dreamer when it comes right down to it – I really appreciate that about him as an artist…he clearly looks at the brighter-side of life and what it has to offer, and here on “Tomorrow” he muses on that quite a bit lyrically. It’s a great reminder that every time we open our eyes, it’s a chance to reset and another chance to make positive change out there in our lives & in the lives of others. The backing female vocals are brilliantly complementary to the sound of Soldier Rye’s voice and to the song as a whole…she’ll show up at various points throughout the record and every single time you hear her voice, you’ll notice the incredible contributions she makes to the songs she appears on. Catchy as all-get-out though…you gotta dig the smooth flow and vibrant sound of “Tomorrow” – the rhythm & groove of Soldier Rye in the verse of this track has style for miles and the message & sentiment of this track carry important words worth listening to closely.
Bringing in the full dose of FUNK to the middle of the record, Soldier Rye cranks up the energy on “9th Sign” with a genuinely innovative take on the sound & style that works. I mean, let’s face it – through a ton of different & unique vibes on Antenna, he’s already made an impressive run through a whole slew of sounds and the man does fusion extremely well. So why NOT add some of that good-good Funk into his Pop-tendencies? No reason that I can think of and certainly none that I can hear on “9th Sign” that would lead me to believe this was any kind of a bad idea – this track completely springs to life in your speakers and really livens up the mid-point of the record with its noticeable shift in sound. I’ll say this – “9th Sign” might not have my favorite lyrics on the album, but I still think it’s one of the most powerful & standout vibes he’s created on Antenna. Love the bass-lines & guitar notes and how they interact with each other so well & the drum beat surrounding them; adding in the full-on organ hooks into the music was another spectacular addition to the vibe in this song. Not only do they add a truly bold sound into the mix when they come in, but listen to the effect it has when they’re taken away as well and what an impact that creates in the verse just past the two-minute mark. Soldier Rye is endlessly innovative and creative with his music…it’s moves like this that also point to what an expert he is when it comes to understanding what it is our ears catch in the dynamics of sound, using tempo & clarity to his advantage.
There’s definitely a huge amount of single-worthy potential on this record…it’ll just be more about how to go about releasing them all. Because songs like “Time Waits For No One” and “Tomorrow” could just as easily be singles as “Cookie Cutter” or “We Found Us” – though I’d likely go with these latter selections as the lead-tracks to entice the people in. I think the brightness in the vibe of both…and just how many hooks are loaded into both the music & vocals display an impeccable balance that’s purely inviting to the ears in every second we hear. Much of me thinks that the chorus Soldier Rye has created on “We Found Us” might very well be the strongest hook he’s found on the entire record when it comes to what’s universally accessible to all…that’d be a tough sound to resist & I can’t think of a single reason why anyone wouldn’t want to just give in to it in the first place. The piano hooks and surrounding percussion all sounds amazing…the editing and assembly of this structure is truly stunning and the whole attitude of this cut is sweet in all the right ways. I mean…this makes the case completely in case you had any doubt – Soldier Rye is a lover people, not a fighter. “We Found Us” is that track you wanna put on for your loved one while you’re driving to that special spot where you first met – the feelings of togetherness, unity, love, and that incredible bond you can experience in a relationship…it’s all expressed so well on this tune. Bright, colorful, playful, and most importantly, sincere – Soldier Rye absolutely shines throughout the uplifting sound & spirit on “We Found Us.”
Every time “Comfortable” came on, I felt like I could do the Rocky jog up a whole flight of stairs for some reason. What IS that Soldier Rye? I have no idea where that feeling comes from…there’s just something about “Comfortable” that sounds so…huge…epic. As smooth & chill as this whole track really is at its core – there’s something so empowering in this vibe that it makes you feel like you could run a marathon & not even get tired as long as this was your soundtrack. I think the flow from the verse into the chorus is easily one of the most impressive transitions from part-to-part on this entire album – and let’s face facts people, Soldier Rye sounds straight-up magical on the chorus of “Comfortable.” The hooks he’s written are seriously spectacular…the progression in his vocal melody on this particular track is magnificently put together & performed. I can understand that the title comes from the theme of the lyrics, but understand that it could definitely apply to the space Soldier Rye is in on this tune. As “Comfortable” as an artist can be, he sounds right at home and invested in every moment. Lyrically, he’s nailing it 100% once again with perfect words to match the atmosphere, perfect pace & approach to bring out the sincerity in what he’s singing about…it all adds up…it all connects. The expansion of this idea as it flows into the chorus is a completely breathtaking moment on this record…I love this song.
If I’m being entirely honest, I think “Antenna” had a few hiccups perhaps…or was somehow the least balanced of the tunes on the entire album to follow. We’re not talking about such a large degree that you wouldn’t want to listen – it’s still a solid tune on this record…but in my opinion, Soldier Rye has made every track so much more accessible from track two on-forward. The closest he’ll come to the “Antenna” style & sound is on “Eyes Of Love” – but I still think this latter tune found a way to make it all work from point-A to point-B that’ll connect with the people out there. There’s a bit more of a distinct harkening back to the 80’s classics here with the increased presence of the synth sounds and approach he takes to the chorus. Like it’s almost completely unrelated to this, but you can hear that Soldier Rye would likely make an amazing cover of a song like “Africa” by Toto if he ever felt like doing do. But there are comparisons to be made to New Wave and Post Punk on “Eyes Of Love” as well…and you could likely point out multiple moments where Soldier Rye will remind you of something like a Pop-version of Peter Gabriel at points throughout the album as well. Personally, I dig this…I like that almost like…ohhh what would you call it…like an alt-reggae beat of sorts…”Eyes Of Love” has cool ideas in the drums that are noticeable in the chorus and slow-burning hooks that carry weight. The shift that occurs just prior to the three-minute mark was probably my favorite moment in the song…a tiny bridge that offers another glimpse into the dimensions that this melody has, exploring its potential even further by smartly threading that into the main hooks of the chorus as “Eyes Of Love” heads towards an inspired ending.
The main man in charge makes one final incredible decision by dialing-back the energy of the last song on the album, bringing Antenna into a tender & sincere conclusion with “Afterworld” and its more sparse sound & minimalistic approach. In my opinion, it’s ideas like this that separate the wheat from the chaff…Soldier Rye is really working with just a few elements in the music to guide him along – and as a result of that, he’s got no choice but to be the main ingredient in the melody that makes this song work. Rising to the occasion without hesitation – I think he delivers one of his most endearing performances right here at the end of the record; he’s been undeniably spectacular throughout this entire record, but I really liked this final twist. He’s combining distance, perspective, atmosphere, and stunning ideas throughout “Afterworld” in a way that all seems so personally objective & vividly real. The subtle effects he’s applied to his voice are slightly more pronounced or present here…whatever it is he’s doing sounds absolutely immaculate to the ears. Heartfelt, real, beautiful, sincere…all of the main elements that make Soldier Rye so worthwhile to listen to are all on display here once again, only this time through the lens of a more serious style that seeks to make sure the sentiment hits home. Don’t get me wrong…he always takes what he does seriously, but there’s definitely a more…hmm…maybe ‘mature’ sound is the right way to put it. It’s like he totally took one more step in his own evolution as an artist right at the end of Antenna with “Afterworld” – a truly stunning song to end a stunning record.
Like I said from the get-go…it’s great to have this guy back in the mix and I feel like he’s given us all nine incredible new reasons to listen on Antenna. Highly inventive, impressively grounded but totally unafraid to dream out loud – the colorfully expressive sounds of Soldier Rye are clearly at their best right now; this entire record was more than worthwhile to listen to – it’s an essential contribution to your playlists this year.
Find out more about Soldier Rye through the official links below!
Official Website: https://www.soldierrye.com
Listen to Soldier Rye’s new album Antenna at Spotify direct here: