CD: Soft Metals - Lenses | New music reviews, news & interviews
CD: Soft Metals - Lenses
Desolate and diffuse but frequently seductive electronics from Los Angeles-based duo
A disembodied, wispy female voice declares “this is not true”, the only emotion left a resignation so acute she may as well be contemplating her imminent demise. On Soft Metals’ “Tell me”, her deliberation is accompanied by electronic music drawing from the pulse Giorgio Moroder created for Donna Summer’s “I Feel Love”, 20 Jazz Funk Greats-era Throbbing Gristle, French cold wave and the drifting vapourousness of the early Orb. On the next track, “When I Look Into Your Eyes”, she sighs “we all die”.
Patricia Hall and Ian Hicks, the Portland-formed and now Los Angeles-based duo who operate as Soft Metals, can’t be accused of being cheery sorts but the atmosphere they create is attractive and enfolds the listener – albeit desolately. Lenses is their second album, the follow-up to 2011’s eponymous debut. Although it's sonically fuller than its predecessor, there are few surprises. They know what they’re doing, and it’s more about mood and texture than actual songs. This means their absorption with what they’ve created can lead to tracks sometimes lacking focus. After initially seeming hypnotic, the album’s techno-styled instrumental closer “Interobserver” meanders just too long to hold the attention.
Although well conceived and frequently seductive, Lenses is – like Hall’s vocals – often too diffuse and plays as though born in a lab. With much of the album hard to grasp onto and the surfeit of female-voiced duos where the male half seemingly handles all the electronics, Soft Metals are going to have a tough time multiplying their audience.
Watch the video for “Tell Me”, from Soft Metals’s Lenses
Subscribe to theartsdesk.com
Thank you for continuing to read our work on theartsdesk.com. For unlimited access to every article in its entirety, including our archive of more than 7,000 pieces, we're asking for £2.95 per month or £25 per year. We feel it's a very good deal, and hope you do too.
To take an annual subscription now simply click here.
And if you're looking for that extra gift for a friend or family member, why not treat them to a theartsdesk.com gift subscription?
more New music
Muscular blues-rock debut from Brighton duo
A still-challenging artefact from art-punk provocateurs
A soft delivery and deceptively conversational tone hide a powerful writer
Manic Street Preachers, Janelle Monáe and a past that’s always present at Finland’s memorable urban festival
One of the year’s prettiest albums from the quirky German-American
Long-lost indie prophets pop up to reward the faithful
Sparse compositions from Finnish songwriter's haunted pen
A multi-sensory experience, celebrating wild behaviour outdoors as much as the arts
A banquet of exquisitely related misery from undersung London outfit
Songs from the new album hold their own against the back catalogue
The critic's darling talks Birmingham, fame, books and why she's re-recorded her debut album
Anodyne French best-sellers attempt to export their success