The Soft Pack: The Soft Pack Review
Punk is a word that virtually has no currency these days. Bands like Fall Out Boy pretend to carry on the mantle, while bands who truly were groundbreaking at the time, like the Sex Pistols and the Ramones, have been ruduced to gimmicks on T-Shirts sold at the mall. What may be left if anything, from this completely vanquished genre is the spirit and attitude which originally gave it such vitality. Bands like Soft Pack, who are releasing their debut, self titled album in the coming month, have at least the spirit to carry on true feeling. Maybe their punk is more of the British sort (which is funny for a band from California), but the swashbuckling guitars, driving rhythm section and snarky lyrics show a band carrying on the spirit that makes music so great.
The songs are short, to the point, and most of all, really catchy. There are not a lot of bells and whistles, just guitar, bass, drums, vocals and the catchy tunes the band has put together. There are highlights all over the album, from the driving opener “C’mon,” the first single “Answer to Yourself,” the screw it all ode to burning things down “Flammable,” and the dusty ballad “Mexico.” The song that may encapsulate the band’s sound and feeling more than any other may be the standout track “Down on Loving.” Although the title and lyrical content (including such mopey laments as “I wanna be alone cause I can’t understand, cause I’m down on loving.”) would make it seem like a Bright Eyes song, it is a kiss off that feels more redemptive than reflective. The vocals push the song forward, with the band echoing back and forth during the chorus. The song clocks in at only slightly more than two minutes, but it packs more of a punch than most of the songs I have heard this year.
The band, who formerly were known as the Muslims, have really shown themselves to be a band on the rise with their impressive debut. The album, a terse ten songs at 32 minutes, is consistently engaging and doesn’t lose your attention at any point. Unlike so many albums out these days, Soft Pack made their point in short and concise fashion, never feeling like they were forcing anything. No matter what genre the band gets lumped into, they are a group of musicians who seem to have figured it out and are moving forward with the spirit of great music from the past, even if they don’t fit into any easy categorization.