Reviewed by Jack Derricourt
Dead Soft have been a source of pure entertainment for what feels like half a decade now. That’s a long time in Canadian indie music. The Vancouver three piece are heavy, introspective, airy, and always guitar-laden. And they have just put out a new self-titled record that promises to show it all off.
Dead Soft the album sounds like a timely step forward for the group. While the two EPs recorded last year provided powerful documentation of the band’s live approach, the nine newly produced tracks on this year’s release elicit a deeper sort of atmosphere. The stacking of vocal parts and the placement of the guitar effects abstract the sound in interesting ways. It feels like a mature sound for a mature record: the song structures are thoughtfully complicated, belying expecatation, causing delight.
The album possesses a sombre tone. Songs like “Death Is At My Door” and “Emergency” get about as heavy as the band has ever been, with guitar crunch of superior proportions to accompany the darker lyrics. The opener “Phase” is a crowd pleaser that was originally featured on the band’s first cassette release, and the track helps establish the journey taken on the record: the movement is away from the familiar, into darker territory. By the close of the album, “Come Back,” as ghostly backing vocals trail through the choruses, and the Kim Dealesque bass line keeps the pulse going, things feel richer, deeper, more coloured.
The track that stands apart from the rest for me is “Everything.” It sways in every direction with gusto: Graeme McDonald’s drums have the sweetness of girl group predictability, except played with the power of a jackhammer; Keeley Rochon’s bass work sets the course of switching dynamics, like a pioneer paddler in the water; and of course Nathaniel Epp’s jangling guitar pyramid of solid rhythm and lead is wonderful to behold. The song is the most laid back pop track on the album, and maybe I’m just showing my true enthusiasms when I say that I connect with this one the most, but I also believe that “Everything” is exempletive of the wonderful choices made all over the record. The song starts without any kind of extended intro, getting right to the meat of things — a novel approach to structure. The melodic guitar work also plays with a distinct sound, one of the many sonic treats found all over the record. The middle eight’s stacked vocals are perfectly balanced. There’s a lot to “Everything.”
Dead Soft have made a solid late summer release, filled with all sorts of goodies for the independent music man or woman of Canada. What I’m really excited to see is if these songs can get to the places they should be heard: in pizza delivery boy car stereos, on the backs of mini-cabs, playing out of boomboxes of all shapes and sizes. The album feels like a classic, and it deserves to be treated as such. If you don’t believe me, check it out for yourself. But you will, oh, you will.
Rating: Proud Hoot (Really Good)
Top Tracks: “Everything” , “Death Is At My Door”