This week we’ll be diving into one of Buzzyband’s favorite bands: Portland’s post-punk outfit Soft Kill. We’ll be reviewing their early albums (the ones we haven’t touched on before) and rediscover how the band has grown through their decade-long career into the artist that we all know and love.
First off we’ll be looking at their debut, 2011’s An Open Door. This was one of the records that helped define the sound of 2010’s post-punk revival. A debut that caught the hearts of fans with its raw and intimate sound. What surprised me was how self-assured the band sounded from the get-go. It’s clear that Tobias Grave and company really knew what they were going for from the start. You can hear clear nods from classics like Joy Division and The Chameleons in this offering, but there is also a strong distinction in the band’s ‘sad rock’ aesthetic which is still at their core even today. Their melodies are soft and vulnerable, with punchy drums that carry so much weight and vocals that sighs as much as it breathes.
You can see this clearly from the opening bars of “From This Point On”. Highlighted by its tom-heavy drums, pulsing bass, delicate riffs and reverb-laden vocals full of longing and despair. Their production is so crisp right out of the gate which consistently stays that way through the next tracks..
Follow-up “Death in the Family” comes in just as strong with its themes of grief and an atmosphere akin to staring at an empty void. Grave channels the feeling of loss with a wide reverb that stretches like the ocean and melodies reminiscent of a cloudy night sky. The line “I carry you wherever I go” perfectly sums up a grieving soul.
Other highlights in here include “Feral Moans”, with its great contrasting of emotions. This track still carries the cold goth aesthetic of the previous ones, but there’s a brimming fury underneath it’s sharp synths and pouncing bass, making it feel like there’s a visceral reckoning that’s waiting to happen. Their technicality goes all out on the title track, with a myriad of synths and guitars layered together to create an intricate mix of sonic textures. The album closes with the shoegaze-y “Surrender”, the harshest and most industrial sounding track in the mix. If you like variety, you won’t be disappointed in An Open Door. A stellar offering that gained Soft Kill the eyes and ears of many, promising a great foundation for years to come.