The Soft Pack - Soft Pack
It's not quite Chinese Democracy but it feels like the wait for The Soft Pack's debut self-titled album has been interminable. Well I guess it's now officially terminable since the San Diego band finally released the album this week.
Since many of these tunes have been kicking around the interwebs for months, if not over a year, there's an instant familiarity with the record. Anyone who has heard the band from their previous days as The Muslims (what were they thinking?) will not be the least bit surprised by the propulsive guitar rock and big hooks found here.
Fast and melodic is right in The Soft Pack's wheelhouse. The catchy "C'Mon", the propulsive "Answer To Yourself" and the slick "More Or Less" all find the near-perfect balance point between power and musicality.
Lots of bands do the power pop thing, so it's important that The Soft Pack do something to differentiate themselves. It's not enough to have catchy tunes anymore. The boys have a few tricks up their sleeves. There's a surf guitar sound that runs through many of the tracks, most notably "Pull Out".
At first "Mexico", the lone down tempo track on the album, seems to prove that the band is better when they play fast. However, the more and more times you hear it, the more the psychedelic haze grows on you. That's not the case with the album closer "Parasites". I'm not exactly sure what they were trying for with the song, but what they ended up with sounds like a Black Rebel Motorcycle Club outtake.
Despite the song-by-song quality of the album, there is still something unsatisfying about it. Most likely it's an issue of expectations. With such a long wait I was craving a more dramatic and assertive document from the band. I wanted them to grab me by the lapels and shake the rock out of me. That just doesn't happen on The Soft Pack.
Maybe fresh ears hearing these songs for the first time will find them outstanding. I can't go more than pretty good.
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