San Diego indie rockers The Soft Pack deliver their self-titled debut album on Kemado Records amidst the media buzz and hype that has surrounded the band ever since they caught the attention of many music critics.
Much of the hype relying on their much sought after 7″ singles and their Muslims 12″ that brought the band critical acclaim, as well as to their attention grabbing band name The Muslims. All culminating with their decision to change their name to the Soft Pack and the band signing a record deal with Kemado.
As with any other band who signs a record deal and coincidentally changes its name, the band raised some doubts as to whether they had actually gone soft and would deliver a commercial radio-ready hit record.
To be honest, they end up with a very radio-friendly record, but not the commercial sell out most expected. Right off the start, the album’s opening track “C’mon” continues where The Muslims left off. Razor sharp guitars, fast paced drumming and catchy verse-chorus-verse. This is easily one of the best songs you will hear this year, and the first half of the album continues in the same vein with the lead single “Answer to Yourself” – an exhilarating three minutes of high-pace rock and roll delivered at break-neck speed. On the other hand, you also get songs like the surf rock jam “Pullout,” which shows the band expanding their love for surf rock into uncharted territory.
The album delivers in sheer energy and strength of the first half with the only weak spot being their version of a topical song “Tides of Time,” which really never comes together lyric-wise and ends up quite flat. The song could have easily been left off the album in favor of either “Faithman” or “Eat Gold” from their self-titled E.P.
Other than that slight misstep, songs like “Flammable,” another heavy hitter, the closing track “Parasites,” which was featured early on the bands career as a 7″ vinyl, and “Mexico” show the Soft Pack in top form with the latter being the highlight of the album.
With singer Matt Lamkin’s vocals reduced to a croon and the band sounding much more mature and refined, the song carries that summer California feel-good vibe that will keep you humming even after the song is over.
The Soft Pack surely do live up to the hype by delivering a repeat-ready, simple rock and roll album in an era where most deliver style over substance – with each song sounding as impressive as the rest.
Gone may be the lo-fi aesthetic of their earlier recordings, but not the spirit. The record is not exactly perfect and you will hear time and again that The Soft Pack are not reinventing the wheel, but when other bands dwell on sounding like each other or dressing alike, The Soft Pack do sound and look very original while recycling the good-old sounds of yesterday.