It’s been a while since we’ve been in touch, hasn’t it? Sorry we didn’t call. Your number got smudged when I got in the shower the morning after the night before. And then there was Christmas, and New Years. It’s all been a bit of a booze fueled blur really. Anyway, it wasn’t our fault…honest!
This review really belongs about two months in the past, but like a crack addicted parent, we’ve been a tad negligent. One man band Luis Vasquez has been producing some deeply dark and sombre songs for a while now. Recently he has pulled in the help of some extra band members and released the Soft Moon’s self titled debut album on Captured Tracks last November.
This album has pretty much been the soundtrack to my December and I’ve spent a lot of time deciding what to make of it. In the end I was mightily impressed. In fact, this has been one of the albums of the year for me.
From opening track ‘Breathe the Fire’, you instantly get a feel for what the Soft Moon are all about. Deeply dark, cold and distant. Vasquez’s vocals are reminiscent of a younger Bobby Gillespie (you know, from like when he could still sing), and the heavy rhythmic bass isn’t far off a Primal Scream album either. Further into the album, things get a little more abstract with tracks ‘Circles’ and ‘Out of Time’ throwing some Krautrock inspired synths into the mix. The whole effect is quite powerful, and I can imagine it being fucking excellent live with the right acoustics.
The Soft Moon – Breathe the Fire
A reprieve to the early heavier tracks comes in the way of the more melodic (if just as sombre) ‘When It’s Over’. I have often thought, ‘what would the Cure have sounded like if they were actually properly miserable Goths?’. I think this song gives you a pretty good idea of what it would be like… and it’s bloody good.
The Soft Moon – When It’s Over
Its not long before things get a bit heavier again though. ‘Sewer Sickness’ and ‘Primal Eyes’ both draw on the post-punk sounds of the late 70’s, and in a similar vein ‘Into the Depths’ and ‘Tiny Spiders’ could be passed off as late Joy Division demos if it weren’t for the lack of Ian Curtis’ irreplaceable vocals. In complete contrast ‘Parallels’ is far more upbeat to what has preceded it, and could quite easily find it’s way to becoming the backing track for a new Volvo commercial.
The Soft Moon – Tiny Spiders
The stand out piece for me is undoubtedly ‘Dead Love’. The subtle rhythms, the haunting vocals and a solid chord structure present throughout the album comes together beautifully here to provide something a little more special than the rest of the album.
The most surprising thing about the album, and the band, is where they come from. You’d be forgiven for thinking that with all these post-punk and new-wave influences they could be from somewhere in the north of England or Scotland, or at least northern Europe. You’d be wrong. This isn’t exactly the sound I usually associate with San Francisco, but then again I don’t suppose The Grateful Dead are really that representative of the whole city.
Vasquez has done a fantastic job here using the influences of late 70s post-punk whilst mixing them perfectly with the current witch-house sound which is thriving across North America. The band are busy touring across America, but they’re planning a foray across the Atlantic later this year. I, for one, can’t wait.
4.5 crumbles (Mrs Hacker’s chicken crumble. Doesn’t necessarily sound appealing, but tastes amazing)