It’s not often we come across music that’s as accomplished, imaginative and arresting as The Soft Moon’s self -titled debut album. Very rarely do we have an ‘Oh my days!’ reaction resulting in bits of our lunch (ham on toast, as it happens) hitting the computer screen because the package is so pretty it makes you forget what you were doing and start paying actual, undivided attention to what’s going on in the individual songs.
The Soft Moon’s muse are the austere, minimalist, visceral expressions that came out of goth and post-punk – and the San Franciscans would probably make sweet, physical love to them if they could. But that doesn’t mean what you think it means. This isn’t another Joy Division tribute band or a latecomer to the early noughties, DFA-headed punk-funk revival. No, TSM’s reverently intimate familiarity with the post-punk canon is elevated into a sound, which becomes surprisingly heady, fresh and curiously uplifting after repeated listening; the whispered, sometimes piercing vocals, bleak riffs and dark subject matter sit agreeably next to the varmer Krautrock/Motorik-sounding drum propulsion and organic basslines that, on the whole, offer an aesthetic, which adds a welcome new, uncompromising complexity to the current goth revivalism of Zola Jesus et al. There’s an interesting juxtapositioning of cold tonality with varmer shades of sound and it makes you admire the amount of thought behind the overall concept.
Were we lazy, low-brow, vulgar music journalists (which we are, on occasion) we would not hesitate in saying that The Soft Moon is the bastard/love child of Joy Division and Neu!, which became the long lost sibling of Parisian act Colder and the black-clad, big-haired imps that are The Horrors – and that’s without even mentioning The XX. So if you’re looking for a new, post-apocalyptic soundtrack to dance into the fire to, look no further.