Starting an arty electronic duo seems to be the thing for young, hip couples to do these days, like buying a tandem bicycle or a share in a CSA. Luckily for Soft Metals’ Patricia Hall and Ian Hicks, they have a knack for it. While Lenses sticks pretty close to familiar electro-pop territory, it’s eerie and unsettling enough to hold a listener’s attention. Getting sucked into the shimmering synths takes zero effort, and its dark immediacy allows the whole album to pass in no time at all. It leaves a vague sense of unease in its wake, the kind that comes from a good ‘80s thriller.
“Baby, there’s no turning back now/ When you said you loved me, I laid my whole life down,” Hall croons softly and menacingly on “No Turning Back”. On this track, the bubbling “Tell Me”, and plenty of others, it’s hard not to hear strains of bands like Kraftwerk, but it’s homage, not straight aping. If anything, those little reminders are actually comforting. It’s good to know that the familiar electronic tropes haven’t gone anywhere, and that they will continue to please our ears until time immemorial.
“Tell Me” is perhaps the track infused with the most weird, disconcerting energy. While other tracks like “When I Look Into Your Eyes” could happily serve as the background jam to a hot, stoned beach party (“When I look into your eyes, I wonder how it ends,” Hall deadpans, sounding like a seductive sociopath), “Tell Me” should retroactively be added to the soundtrack of Blade Runner. There’s no doubt that Soft Metals know their genre well, and through all the creepiness, there’s a kind of joy in hearing two young musicians in their element.
Essential Tracks: “No Turning Back”, “Tell Me”, “When I Look Into Your Eyes”