Dead Soft is one of very few bands in my music library that survived my wobbly transition from adolescence to adulthood and likely the only local group to appear on my high school playlists that hasn’t since broken up.
In fact, the band is moving more quickly now than ever. They played with The Breeders earlier this year and are now signed onto indie label, Arts & Crafts, alongside acts like Timbre Timbre, Broken Social Scene and Feist. As their debut to Arts & Crafts, New Emotion doesn’t disappoint. While the record is unlikely to blow your mind, it will satisfy anyone who’s a fan of Dead Soft’s earlier work, in particular, their 2014 self-titled EP.
The record opens hard and fast with “Kill Me,” delivering the style that Dead Soft does best right from the get-go. This sound—based on Nathaniel Epp’s laidback drone, Keeley Rochon’s fuzzy bass and Graeme McDonald’s punchy drumming—is comfortingly similar to their past work. This track will be a crowd-pleaser for the tried and true Dead Soft fans, who might’ve heard the song onstage in the past and will be glad to finally have it on a record.
You’ll remember the vocal hook in the chorus of the EP’s second song, “Proof,” but the track is otherwise less exciting than the opener. It feels slightly more predictable and might blur into other songs in Dead Soft’s discography, particularly the melodic ballads that usually fall between more upbeat moments on their tracklists. The same applies to “I’m Afraid,” a slower, more melancholy track that gives listeners a bit of a break from the heaviness that normally defines the band, but is equally unlikely to get stuck in your head.
I’m glad to say that “Down” will get you moving and shaking. Of all the tracks on New Emotion, it’s the one I’m most excited to see live. The closing track, “Bones,” nails the Dead Soft string signatures—lower, noisier rhythm alongside a chirpy, bendy lead guitar—and we finally get to hear Epp yell a little, a touch that would be sorely missed if it didn’t make it onto New Emotion.
The first and last tracks act as the perfect bookends for the EP, sandwiching material that could otherwise be interpreted as less engaging than their previous work. New Emotion is solid enough to be listened to on repeat, but will also work if played in the background. It would be nice to see them push their boundaries further in the future, maybe opting to experiment with style and structure rather than sticking to what’s familiar and safe.