reviewed by Kaitlin Ruether
Socrates speaks of virtue as the place where self-control and courage is in balance. The gentle against the rabid, the soft against the solid. By the standard of Socrates, Soft Serve has created an EP that — when taken as a whole — is truly virtuous, and worthy of their sweet-and-icy name.
Two clear poles of ambiance emerge in the album, and can be traced song-by-song. There is the gentle and comforting, “Whisper In The Wind”, which introduces delicacy before the sleepier “Pat’s Pub Open Blues Jam” takes over. An album highlight, the song uses thoughtful lyrics and folksy dropped Gs to create mood: “I spent too much time awake just dreamin’. I’ve been sleepin’. When the body hurts from all the sleepin’, I’ve been believin’.” Jangly guitars serve to prove this dreaminess.
This is followed by the divided “Phantasm”. Here things swerve, the silky becomes solid for a taunting moment before falling back into the comforting. By the time “Camera Phone” rolls around, it’s clear that there were signs of the shift from the beginning. The alien babble effects that speckle “Whisper In The Wind” paved the way for the layers of strange ringing phones that introduce “Camera Phone”. A classic electric guitar takes the spotlight for a solo, a motif that is revisited explosively on “Soft Soap”.
Structure is the strength of Trap Door EP. The instrumental and calm opener “Whisper In The Wind” is reflected in the similarly-instrumental and vivacious (if not at times vicious) “Soft Soap”. And then there’s the shift in “Phantasm”, which moves from indie-rock with a self-controlled vocal line into a false ending that blasts off into a firework show of a rock-out before becoming something more akin to a lullaby. Whew! Now that’s a pivot.
Often indie-rock feels divided. There are the folk-rooted gentle jam bands that take you on forays into emotional spaces, and then there are the nostalgic artists who skillfully pull from the Rock’n’Roll of the past and form it into something of today. Trap Door manages both. The EP was recorded a year ago before the band’s frontman moved from Vancouver to Toronto, and so it serves as a collection of memories. A true testament to what the group was capable of. And hey, if the guitar solo that punctuates “Soft Soap” is telling us anything, it’s that Soft Serve aren’t afraid to show off their stuff.
Top Track: “Pat’s Pub Open Blues Jam”
Rating: Strong Hoot (Good)