After debuting with a really strong album that sounded like a collection of lost AM radio hits from a past when power pop actually ruled the charts, Warm Soda veered off into a deep ditch with their next attempt. Young Reckless Hearts sounded lifeless in comparison, with a weirdly quiet mix that drained out all the power and diminished most of the pop. Turns out the band was imploding at the time and, in an act of self-destruction, mainman Matthew Melton decided to sabotage the mixes and basically ruin the album out of spite. After moving from the West Coast to Austin and forming a new band, the third Warm Soda album goes a long way toward restoring the group to their original level of power pop goodness. Symbolic Dream is tougher, more energetic, and has much more spark with far more hits than misses. Melton and his new crew run through the tight and spritely tunes like they were playing them in a sweaty nightclub, barely pausing for breath in between. The guitars are louder, solos slash like knives, and the rhythm section has a kick that was missing last time out. Most importantly, Melton wrote a batch of songs that are super skinny-tie hooky and sings them like he's got something to prove. Most of them are in the stripped-down, clipped, and spunky vein of previous work, catchy as anything and hard to shake once you've heard them a couple times. A few throw in some new wrinkles; the harmony guitar leads on the spunky " I Wanna Go Fast," the soaring chorus of "Dream I Left Behind," and the echoing production and fierceness of the title track all show Melton isn't stuck in a rut -- he's totally invested in this album. After the debacle of Young Reckless Hearts, it's good to hear him bounce back so powerfully, and it's especially good to have Warm Soda back making power pop that fully lives up to both sides of the equation.
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AllMusic Review by Tim Sendra