Friday, April 25, 2014

SoftSpot - MASS (2014)

Brooklyn art-rockers SoftSpot are the rare band that arrived, almost completely without ceremony, articulate in their ideas and fully formed. Their debut album Ensō an artist statement that curiously enough, didn't insist upon itself - it was an album of incredible subtlety that let its idea reveal themselves through subsequent lesson, instead of drawing undue attention to themselves. In fact, the major theme of Ensō; it's circular nature is a blink and you might miss it kind of affair. Such a suspension of ego is rare for a young band and yet, SoftSpot aren't your average band. With the announcement and subsequent previews of MASS, the question was not whether or not SoftSpot create a follow up on the same level of their debut but rather what would their sophomore effort have to say? What does MASS say about SoftSpot?

With "King Porus", SoftSpot quickly establishes an entirely different tone for their second outing. Where it may have seemed that their lyrics, regardless of how astonishingly poetic they tended to be on the debut, were secondary, If at all possible, MASS is a much more patient record truly relying on the push and pull and the space between not only words and ideas but songs themselves. It's evident in how the songs have no qualms about spilling over in the next, carrying with them bits and pieces of the residual sound before going on to build from scratch. While you could isolate any one of Ensō's eight tracks and lose virtually none of its intent or dull its effect, there's a notably lack of accessibility; of spirited intensity at the heart of MASS.

That's not to say MASS isn't completely without its forward-pushing tracks. Rather, it's not an album solely consisting of those or even relying on them in its majority. "You/Yours" with its vocal gymnastics and "Crosswords" with its serpentine amble function as engaging check in points for an album of considerable gravitas. MASS is an album held together by its own physics, aiming for the cerebral instead of the visceral but downright scenic in its exposition. For those in need of such things, there's about three "hits" on MASS. For those looking for an album of substance, MASS is exactly that, it's eight songs occupying their own space much like planets themselves (the moody "Hera" much more like a moon reflecting "Crosswinds"'s own shine) but all no doubt of import to the whole.

SoftSpot's sophomore full length MASS is out now and available for stream/purchase via Bandcamp.

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