The soundtrack to autumn should reflect the mood of the dropping temperature and growing darkness. Portland’s Soft Kill provides a fitting prelude to this season with their new album Heresy. They are not as steeped in Halloween as a “goth” band would be, but are a moody enough flavor of indie rock to accompany this transition. Their sound holds just enough emptiness to give the hollow post-punk coldness. The first two tracks have a stark and downtrodden indie rock feel. The vocals are sung more than stuck in a frantic baritone narrative like so many of their peers. On “Hit the Floor,” the mood dims down into a more melancholy place with a more Cure-like ambiance sweeping in with the guitar melodies draped around the pulsing drums and bass. They guitars are layered in hypnotic swathes of sonic tension. If you are alone at 4 a.m. trying to fight off a nervous breakdown, this would work well.
Pick up The Soft Kill Tape “Hersey” HERE!
Even a casual listen might detect hints of the Jesus and the Mary Chain, which I would certainly give these guys props for, since it is a rather unique influence that you do not find often in the younger generation’s take on post-punk, and I hunt down at least a dozen of these bands a week. This sound this is most evident on “Selfish Love.” The vocals drop into a hushed baritone and the song lets up its foot on the gas to create frantic tension. “Current” takes another step back, allowing the guitar melody to weep out from the song while maintaining the attitude of punk’s early days, when genre lines were blurred and not so hard and fast, with many of the bands we consider the forerunners of goth being considered “punk.” On the title track, the band takes you back into a darker, seedier underbelly of of cocaine line mirrors and clove cigarettes as the vocals take on a more emotive breathiness under the canopy of well-layered guitars. This album is well mixed; the producer didn’t just crank the reverb to 11 and hope for the best. Every instrument is placed right where it needs to be in order to best serve the songs, with the synths not threatening to turn this into dark wave with overly romantic strings.
It seems post-punk is flourishing this year, so with quantity comes issues of quality. This is not an issue which plagues Soft Kill. They are successful in walking the line between being faithful to the hallowed day and age this brand of punk originally reared its head in, while cultivating a sound that is their own. With that said, Soft Kill might not have re-invented the post punk wheel with this album, but they took a more than capable stab at it and continue to grow their sound, much like this album grows on you with each listen. The album is being released on 12″ lp via No Sun Recordings.