(Artwork care of Karen Ramsay (www.karenramsay.com), profile photo care of brianlackeyphotography.com)

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

CD review - Softspot, NOUS (2011)

Psych pop reveries hint at deeper possibilities

Brooklyn trio Softspot has its origins as a duo between childhood friends Bryan Keller and Sarah Kinlaw. Bringing drummer Andrew Spaulding into their mix adds a touch of drive and structure to their psychedelic tinted dream pop. NOUS is a mere three songs, but they're enough to demonstrate how Softspot excels at creating textures and mood with a dense sonic mix.

Each song offers its own sensibility. Holy Father uses insistent percussion to build tension while sparse instruments add accents. The vocals provide the real balance; they're strong, but the softened attack and echoes give them a detached feel. Slight Pink Floyd psychedelic vibes creep in, but the overall sound is more like Bjork. I can just make out the words, but they don't seem to matter to the psycho-sonic sense of the song.

Next up, Slack Tide's dreamy indie pop is full of muted jangle and flickering candle-light vocals. The tight drum groove anchors the dream. Once again, the track creates a strong feeling, like the sound of sitting in the dark with someone who might become your love, communicating with light touches and whispers. The sense that things are waiting in store for you. The song's climax hints at illumination, but only reveals more possibilities.

The final track Notorious Debris starts by recalling Pink Floyd's Set the Controls for the Heart of the Sun, but the richly reverbed guitar ignores that to explore a dreamy, late night vibe. The textures of the music create a mix of Callers and pop psychedelia. The vocals add a birdlike quality. Then the song expands into an intense noise pop swirl of sound.

Most importantly, NOUS has an innate quality of more-ness. I want more than this short EP so my dreamy reverie can continue.

Drop by Softspot's Bandcamp page to listen and buy the tracks.

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