reviewed by Kaitlin Ruether
What happens when dreamy art-pop meets tangible R&B? There’s a risk of clash, sure, but there’s also the possibility of finding the sweet spot: the place where stylistic differences blend and the music rises into something new — it’s innovation. Softside takes familiar dream-pop and specifies it. No longer floating, the drifting and effected riffs are grounded by auto-tuned vocals and synthetic beats. The sensation is akin to waking up from a dream, half-sure it was real because you could feel it.
Playing with the places where reality meets the artificial is a recurrent motif on Lower Hands (even the title is an off-kilter way of saying “feet”). “Nighttrain” is a sleepy, sound-sampled track that speeds up and drops a beat as soon as the lyrics turn to concrete plan-making. On “Over” the lyrics “It’s been a fast year” are delivered at a slow canter, and this becomes an invitation to relax.
In the middle of the EP, aptly buried, is “Want You” which hides an apology and a world of longing behind overlapping vocals. The short track is the emotional raw point of the album, before it slides once again into the vacation vibes. The artsy and warm “Stronger” is transportive — a trip to a beach, or maybe just a trip. The track epitomizes the balance between art-pop guitar lines and R&B flow. Enough so that the more pop, more material “Boss Boss” feels heavy. The breeze a little too chilled after all that sunbathing.
As a whole, Lower Hands, is a well-timed fusion of genres that emulates the moments when life is dreamy, or when dreams are full of life. This is an album for the innovators, the chill, and those who just want to go to the beach.
Top Track: “Stronger”
Rating: Strong Hoot (Good)