“Fairytale on Fire” by SALt is an energetic and diverse punk album that combines elements of pop, funk, and rock with powerful songwriting that takes listeners on an emotional journey through Sharon’s world, featuring a mix of fast-paced and melodic tracks that showcase the band’s appreciation for stoner rock and shoegaze music, which sets it apart from other punk albums.
Sharon and Robin Woods, a married couple, and Simon and James, two family friends, make up the Edinburgh-based band SALt. Simon Kettles plays bass, Robin Woods plays guitar, Sharon Woods sings, and James King plays drums and keyboards. They joined forces because they continue to write and have a ton of original songs. Sharon and Simon used to be in a late 80s pop band called the Ruby Suit, while Robin was in the noisy post-punk band Vatican Shotgun Scare. Despite not having been born at that time, James has written a lot of SALT songs.
SALt has been performing for over 4 years; they have supported Rose McDowall of Strawberry Switchblade and Edinburgh’s Goodbye Mr Mackenzie, and they have appeared on Limbic TV a few times. SALt had a documentary video created by Dylan Mars Greenberg during the lockdown. They have two albums out, one called “Fairytale on Fire” and the other called “Cellophane,” which is only available on blue vinyl through HX Records.
‘Boxcar’ appeared on “Fairytale on Fire,” a vinyl-only 11-track album from HX Records that was released on May 13, 2022. The harpist Sal Bernardi is a session player on this album, which was released by Rough Trade. On December 10, 2022, a digital album of “Fairytale on Fire” was published, including four more bonus tracks that were ruled out of the vinyl album after much debate, bringing the total to 15 tracks. Digitally, there is more space!
“Fairytale on Fire” has a punk foundation with pop and funk elements woven throughout. Although it is manic and upbeat, classic punk’s trademark sullen and depressive atmosphere has been abandoned. It is an experience to listen to “Fairytale on Fire” in one sitting because of the incredible energy in these songs. You get up after an hour of buzzing punk rock, bubbly and prepared for the day. Punk-ing ready—almost too ready. “Fairytale on Fire” is a brave album because SALt, who are also songwriters, don’t just focus on one genre. Each song takes you on a journey through Sharon’s world. She writes from the heart, which results in an emotional journey that isn’t always pleasant.
“Fairytale on Fire” tracklist:
3. The Sea Wakes
4. Fairytale on fire
5. Clip That Girls Wings
7. Cold White Hands
10. Broken Toys
11. I Gotta Go
14. I Hate you All
15. James Bond
Bright hues, wonderful tales, and heady bass lines are featured as the album opens with “SALt.” The drums start to sing as “Halo” approaches in the distance, with the bass leading the way. Chitters in the background then rise up. The guitars follow behind, slashing ska-style and hitting the vibe as the vocals bleed through the ether. High and bright, the vocal pierces the warbling sound like acid. It’s alarmingly reviving in a way that screams new punk rather than classic punk. You’ll start to recognize this feeling as the album progresses. You are constantly on a rollercoaster, even though there are ups and downs and twists and turns. Even the slow parts are filled with adrenaline.
As opposed to most punk albums, this one has a melodic back half. In that sense, it resembles funk rock and is an excellent combination. The foundation of songs like “Boxcar,” “Tumbleweed,” and “Dust” is this revolving, jiving bass hook. It has a different vibe and tone every time, but the instrumental can always latch onto it. The vocals have a great contrast to bounce from, which enables SALt to distinguish a much more varied sound than other artists in their genre.
However, this new wave of punk is distinguished by its appreciation for stoner rock and shoegaze music, in addition to its songwriting prowess. When we hear the sound from “Candyfloss” and its descending and cyclic riff with the vocal slotted casually in between, we can feel this in “Fairytale on Fire.” It can be heard in “I Gotta Go,” which features glittering guitars and brisk, punchy drums. It gives the album yet another level of complexity, one that sets it apart from the competition and proclaims, “Hey, I’m different, and in the best of ways.” It’s profound and as deep as a book.
Although, what keeps SALt’s sound afloat is something that lies at the heart of all of this experimentation. They are a punk band at their very core. They enjoy playing rock loudly, and they like it. Every song on the album contains it, and it acts as a strong unifying factor for all of the new sounds. Punk is revealed in songs like “I Hate You All,” “James Bond,” and “Broken Toys.” The band has performed outdoors and demonstrated their talents, but the classic is timeless for a reason.
“Fairytale on Fire” by SALt is a show. It is more of an experience to have than an album to play. This song collection has so many options that it could be divided into two albums, and each would still appeal to my ear as a distinct and well-defined album. Fortunately for us, it was a complete package that will endure as a prime example of both punk done right and punk done wrong, and I adore how punk that is.
Go Listen Now!!
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