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Bubbles back for Soda duo

Sodastream are back.

Not only will Perth’s critically adored expats be touring their hometown for RTRFM’s In the Pines in April, they have a brand new album, Little By Little, that sits comfortably next to their best work.

The fifth record for the band often pegged as Australia’s answer to Belle and Sebastian, Little By Little arrives 11 years after previous album Reservations. By 2007, Sodastream had officially split.

“We’d been going flat stick for about 10 years,” frontman Karl Smith recalls from home in Castlemaine. “Touring constantly and coming home and trying to build a life and then disappear again for a couple of months. It became quite exhausting and at the end it was just untenable.”

Smith formed Lee Memorial and released a solo album while double bassist Pete Cohen played with Luluc, among others. But when Cohen joined Lee Memorial in 2011, the seeds were sown for a Sodastream reunion in 2013.

“Everyone other than Pete stopped showing up for rehearsals,” Smith laughs. “And it was like, this is just Sodastream. So we started playing around with some of the old tracks we hadn’t ever recorded. We’d planned to do a double album when we did Reservations but we’d broken up before we finished it.”

It’s not just time apart that has held up their comeback album, however. Smith, who has been working as a travel writer from home in the intervening years, had two daughters that had trouble sleeping for four and a half years.

“I was living in a constant manic state,” the 41-year-old says.

“Like a lot of parents are, but it was quite protracted. That brings up all kinds of personal issues; it makes it very difficult to communicate, so I ended up getting very sick. I got pneumonia and things spiralled out of control so we retreated to the country.

“It really affects your personality and you feel like it’s a permanent change until you come out of it, then suddenly you’re like ‘Oh OK, I’m not a total moron, I was just very tired’.”

While fans will be rapt with news of a Sodastream tour, Smith once played in another legendary Perth band and some local music lovers will also have their fingers crossed for a Thermos Cardy reunion some day.

“Well, we did something very close to that when we came over for my solo tour,” Smith says. “Harry (Kneen, bass) and Adam (Johnson, drums) got up and did a few songs with me down at Mojos. You know, never say never.”

Little By Little is out now. Sodastream play Dominion League, Perth on April 29 (tickets from Oztix), and In the Pines at Somerville Auditorium at the University of WA on April 30 (tickets from rtrfm.com.au).

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