The Soft Pack ‘The Soft Pack’ – Review

6 Feb

The Muslims? They were so 2008.

The Soft Pack? They were so 2009.

Such is the reaction you will get if you ask any number of ‘hip’ music journalists about The Soft Pack (or The Muslims as they used to be known). NME tipped this band at the tail end of 2008 and were lining them up to be the next big thing (an honour that has since been passed onto The Drums). 2009 SHOULD have been their year. They SHOULD have released the brilliant ‘Bright Side’, ‘Extinction’ and ‘Besides myself’ properly instead of shunning them from their debut album that has arrived 12 months to late! Why oh why did they not capitalize on all the interest?

None of this would matter of course if this debut album was amazing. It wouldn’t matter that they used up all their best songs on an e.p if they came up with 10 even better songs for the album. But ‘The Soft Pack’ is not a great album; It’s good but not great.

The first five songs pack an almighty punch, in fact the first side zooms past in under 15 minutes. ‘C’mon’ is the track that comes closest to matching the brilliance of their early singles, with its lightning fast singing and Strokesy guitars. ‘Down on Loving’ and ‘Answer to yourself’ are nearly as good, both taking a slightly more mellow but still frantic approach. ‘Move Along’ differs only in that it introduces an organ and ‘Pull Out’ has a ferocity that gives it a slight edge.

The album’s second half is a lot more hit and miss. ‘More or Less’ is pretty good, ‘Tides of time’ is more interesting lyrically but musically sounds a bit stale, and flammable is pure filler. ‘Mexico’ is arguably the album’s stand out track as it’s the only one that displays any kind of sophistication or experimentation. That’s not to put down the other songs – this band clearly know what they want and I respect that- but ‘Mexico’ just sounds a lot more complex than anything else here. As a throwback to the early stuff ‘Parasites’ closes the album in Ramonic style and perhaps gives an indication of what this album could have been. The song is much more raw than anything else on here, and it’s also a lot more exciting than the majority of the record.

You can’t really knock The Soft Pack at what they do because they are clearly dedicated and intelligent about it. These songs are simple and frantic for a reason, a few years ago during the garage rock revival they would have been selling loads. As an album this is cohesive and well thought out, it just needs a few more killer songs – songs we know the band have in their possession. This is a frustrating listen because you feel that the band have stunted their own potential. Had they included ‘Bright Side’ and ‘Extinction’ and maybe another song like ‘Mexico’ then this could have been a far superior album to the one it is. Nonetheless ‘The Soft Pack’ is a fine debut and they remain a band with a bright future.

7.5/10

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