Under Review

Under Review: Baby Blue, Dead Soft

Todd McCluskie

There are peculiar abandoned slices of time, when a certain tone, tune or track washes over you, like a lush, deep turquoise musical wave, and appears to capture the precise moment you happen to be floating through. Such is the case for my new discovery: Vancouver’s Dead Soft and their summer-friendly six-song EP release, Baby Blue. The project, begun as a DIY inspired “doodle,” is self-recorded, and essentially reimagined versions of tunes from their last album, Big Blue. Released on the Arts & Crafts label, the offering is syrupy thick, sprinkled with power pop sensibilities. The band describes their west coast sound as “grunge-punk for the people” and this release as “a fun living-room rock project.”

The group is originally out of Prince Rupert, B.C. on Kaien Island. Nathaniel Epp (vocals, guitar) and Keeley Rochon (bass, vocals) began jamming as teenagers, influenced by Canadian ’90s indie rock and American artists like Elliott Smith and The Replacements. After the duo relocated south to Victoria, Dead Soft was officially born in 2011. The following year they added drummer Graeme McDonald and were calling Vancouver home. Their discography to date includes: a self-titled EP and 2012 cassette release, a self-titled LP in 2014, 2018’s New Emotion EP, the full length album Big Blue in 2019 and their most recent release 2020’s EP Baby Blue.

This dreamy and melodic record opens strong with the ambient, atmospheric harmonies of “The Wind,” originally released as a single in 2016. A seamless transition into the pure pop ditty “I Believe You” and onto what, for me, is the strongest track on the record: “Problems” (FYI not a Sex Pistols cover). “Problems” is complete with a deliciously catchy hook, and rich Beach-Boys reminiscent layered harmonies that keep this dirty guitar pop gem spinning on my turntable. “Now I see her in my dreams / And I’ve learned to accept defeat / And now my problems are gone / Since I quit carrying on / I have nothing to say / And it’s better this way” are relatable sentiments to everyone who has loved and lost. Then the record seamlessly drifts into another couple of crisp melodies with the songs “Step Out” and “Trimmer.” To round out Baby Blue, the tasty track “Kill Me” completes the thoroughly worthwhile EP with a killer, hypnotic, free flowing guitar arpeggio that could only be described as sonically sweet and soft, Dead Soft. —Todd McCluskie