Soft Swells have crafted a debut LP that is enjoyable from start to finish, channeling many of the current trends in indie rock into a delightfully succinct half-hour package.
The lead single “Every Little Thing” is a catchy pop tune, but not of the Top 40 variety. This is going to be the kind of band that gets their music passed along from friend to friend and via the internet, not through TV or radio. Some of the more electronic tracks like “Lifeboats” and “Overrated” bear chillwave influences, while instrument-driven tracks like the debut single “Every Little Thing” remind me of Arcade Fire.
The general tone of surf rock revival falls right in line with Best Coast, Surfer Blood, and some of the less-punk rock Wavves tracks. Guitarist Matt Welsh’s band Phonograph has previously toured opening for Wilco, and understandably there are little glimpses of Jeff Tweedy scattered throughout the release. The album feels devoid of filler, and I would imagine that a significant chunk of audio had to be omitted in order to create such a smooth playing record.
The duo of Welsh and Tim Williams both relocated from New York to California, and the sound of the band reflects the mood of two musicians who escaped the temperamental weather and bad attitudes of New York to relax and soak up the Los Angeles sunshine. Even the sadder-sounding tracks manage to sound cautiously optimistic, never crossing the line into melodrama.
While I greatly enjoyed the record, the one criticism it invites is that it is constantly self-aware of how hip it is. If you don’t know what I mean, watch the music video for “Every Little Thing” on YouTube. It’s not the skinny jeans, or the Ray-Ban Wayfarers, or the beards, or the asymmetrical haircuts, or the knit hats, or the denim jackets, or the footage of trains, windmills, abandoned buildings, and stray dogs -0 it’s the combination of all of them that comes across as a parody of itself.
(Modern Outsider Records, no address provided)