Released: July 19 2011
Label: Captured Tracks
By: Alexandra Lyon
The self-titled Soft Metals album doesn’t give us any clues in its name as to what the album may sound like. Far from sounding like any kind of soft metal, this bundle of psychedelic 80’s-synth inspired album is absolutely fascinating.
The duo of Patricia Hall and Ian Hicks, hailing from Portland, Oregon, has created a car-crash of sound that is both exciting and thoroughly interesting. Reminiscent on some levels to the sounds of Crystal Castles, this ten-track album lacks the whisky fuelled energy and terror brought by Alice Glass, but instead replaces it with a dreamy, almost hypnotic undertone that any fan of electronica would appreciate.
The tracks that feature would not seem out of place on the soundtrack to any 80’s-related television series or film. Through the incredible use of synth and keyboards, it’s almost possible to see women disappearing down the street with poodle perms and polka-dot jumpsuits – shoulder pads optional.
The first song on the album, Psychic Driving, is everything that you would expect from an album such as this. Synth riffs that scream Duran Duran are layered over an effortless vocal from Hall, and the repetitive nature of the song has a trippy effect on the listener. The melody is melancholy and disjunct, a clever tactic used by most musicians to evoke feelings of sadness or fear. And yet, the track remains pleasant to listen to. This track, as well as the album on a whole, represents the oddity and originality of Soft Metals, and really showcases their ability in that the audience is clearly identified and the duo are staying true to a genre of music that they are clearly very passionate about.
The album in general is very emotional in terms of the voice and lyrics of Patricia Hall, notably in Voices and Pain. The poignant lyrics and the velvet tones from Hall combined with the surreal accompaniment of discotheque waves come together to really scream at the audience and notify them of the arrival of Soft Metals. Other tracks particularly worthy of note include Celestial Call, a sci-fi inspired track -haunting, resonate vocals and high-pitched scales muted with a dreamy computerised overlay of digital sound effects. This track is intriguing and allows it to be set on a different tangent from the other tracks – though they are all uniquely interesting, this track is set apart in its own right.
These ten tracks are enthralling in that they would be an outcast were they in human form, stood in a crowd. Unlike most other albums by different artists, their sound does not conform to a particular style that they have established. Though their influences and the general tonality and genre of the tracks stay same throughout, it is almost as though this were a greatest hits album with some of their more experimental tracks and some of their safer more well-guarded works. Their hypnotising keyboard ostinatos and catchy hooks in the lyrics ensure that this, their first full-length album effort, will be highly regarded by many critics and fans of electronica. They are a revival of the past, fused with the future, and their eccentric synth drones will surely be the fuel they need to ignite a promising career in music.
Soft Metals – Celestial Call