Twenty-eight year old Stéphanie Sokolinski aka Soko is a French singer/songwriter and actress who jacked in school and moved to Paris from Bordeaux when she was sixteen years old. Sexually ambivalent teens and imperfect twenty-somethings trying to work out adulthood found solace in her sweet love songs, endearingly klutzy, lo-fi style and French accent. In 2008 she moved to Los Angeles, which is where Soko, bathed in the hot sunshine and hard working creative atmosphere of Silverlake and Echo Park, began to truly bloom. Videos shot on her iPhone and vintage cameras were uploaded onto Youtube, notably I Thought I Was An Alien that was made with the help of Sam Spiegel and his brother, Spike Jonze. The outsider had found her band of outsiders.
Soko’s second full-length LP, My Dreams Dictate My Reality, is an elegant, melancholy mix of New Order and Robert Smith, with hints of Siouxsie Sioux. Being worked with legendary Cure producer Ross Robinson, Soko invented new wave 80’s vibe to this album. The first song on the album “I Come In Peace” has an almost electro Mazzy Star vibe to it, making it the perfect lead off song for the album. There are also moments when there are bits of post punk a la a Joy Division vibe especially on the title track. Elsewhere this album captures the neon-lit doomsday vibrations of Los Angeles, especially on “Monster Love” and “Love Trap,” the songs Ariel Pink guests on. 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.
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. If you are looking for an album chock full of early new wave sounds, this is one of those albums for you. Also on a side note, it’s nice to hear Ross Robinson spread his wings and show his versatility as a producer. (Text Teuku Ajie)
1. My Dreams Dictate My Reality
2. Keaton’s Song
3. Monster Love
4. Love Trap
5. Temporary Mood Swings
Photography Chad Pitman. Image courtesy of Ponystep.