Soft Metals - Soft Metals

Soft Metals

Soft Metals

Released: July 19 2011

Genre: Electronica 

Label: Captured Tracks

Rating: 3.5/5

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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

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The Good Natured - Skeleton EP

The Good Natured

Skeleton EP

Released: June 20 2011

Genre: Electronica / Pop

Label: Parlophone

Rating: 4.0/5

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By: Diether Scholten

The Skeleton EP is three fast-paced electro-pop songs with thriving drums that pretty much anyone can relate to. To take this pumped-up mix filled with ingenious metaphors even further, Sarah McIntosh, the singer and front-woman of the band, has added a little gothic flavor to the table.

The first track on the EP by The Good Natured trio is the playfully named Skeleton, an ode to the core of every human being.  This resembles what is left-over when one takes away all emotions and appearance of a human. When everything is “ripped off”, as Sarah sings it, you are left with a skeleton – yet this is sung so happily that it seems weird that Sarah isn’t doing “the robot” in the music video. As for the instrumentals, George’s drumming is very clear and simple – yet they give the song such a distinctive rhythm.

You might have guessed that the second song, Hourglass, is about time – it’s more profound, concerning time slipping away and extracting the good moments from life. Presumably Sarah is having a good time with somebody – but that will only last for an hour. The lyrics describe this situation in a very gothic manner. Both instrumentally and vocally Hourglass is a great song – sounding as if the instruments are having a conversation with each other. The only down-side to this song is that the chorus might be just a little bit too cheerful, and this contradicts the melancholic mood of the lyrics.

The third track, Wolves describes a pack of wolves “dancing in the fire” and being “lost in desire”.  Even the drums and the bass seem to captivate you overwhelmingly, as you feel as though anything could happen. After listening to this song a couple of times it evokes images of people dancing and jumping over a fire.

Sarah’s great accent and use of timing combined with George’ and Hamish’ instrumentals makes for a very catchy trio. These are the kind of songs which you don’t mind being stuck in your head for a while – so why not let the Skeleton EP run right through your bones?

The Good Natured – Wolves