A haze of synthetic melodies twists and writhes with an underlying sense of urgency. Without warning, a shimmering electric guitar joins their kaleidoscopic hurricane and forms a chaotic harmony that will build a foundation for the ensuing lyrical lashings of “Voicoder,” the leadoff single from The Soft Underground’s amazing new record Anemoia, set to be released this coming November 2nd everywhere indie music is sold and streamed. Exotic beats and supple strings create a patchwork of pulsating textures in this highly-immersive track, but as anyone who explores the whole of Anemoia will discover, they’re only a small sampling of what this full-throttle alternative rock showcase has to offer listeners. The Soft Underground take their sound to the next level in this most recent release, which I would deem their most mature thus far in their career together.
Anemoia is definitely a surreal work of art, but its core material isn’t without stability – quite the contrary, in fact. “Alex’s Song” and “Thank You” have very fetching hooks that pendulously tease us with indulgence without ever veering into the negative aspects of excess, and though they’re not quite as lean in tone as “New York City Venue” is, they don’t minimize the impact of the more straightforward mixes on the record at all. I think it’s pretty clear that The Soft Underground were trying to construct something shapely and yet streamlined in this album, and despite the difficulty in doing as much they manage to make it look pretty easy here.
“Charlie and the Congo” has the sexiest groove of any in Anemoia, and I think that it’s rather interesting that it was sandwiched between the jazzy “Petals” and somewhat abrasive “Voicoder.” Tension is everything in this tracklist, and by creating a tide of emotions that rises and falls with the rhythm of each track, The Soft Underground were able to produce something that has the operatic detail of a progressive rock album without any of the campy theatrics that often accompany such a release. “Victoria Age” spills into the title track without skipping a beat, but the aesthetical contrast between the two compositions is jarring enough to force a shift in mood on the part of the listener every time it’s played. This is engaging pop/rock on overdrive, which is something that has been rather tough to find in the late 2010s.
Whether it be the angelic harmonization of velvety vocals and mild strings in “The Bullet Train” or the glow of atmospheric melodies in “Thank You,” The Soft Underground’s Anemoia is an album that I would highly recommend discriminating alternative rock connoisseurs pick up this season, if for no other reason than to see what all of the hype has been about. These nine progressively-nuanced ballads and slow-churning rock songs are definitely worthy of the buzz they’ve been getting, and I think that after “Voicoder” finds some steady rotation on the college radio dial this autumn, The Soft Underground are finally going to receive a lot of the mainstream attention that has evaded them since the release of their debut album several years ago.