Whats in a band name, and does it even matter so long as the musics good? Case and point, post-punk pseudo newbies The Soft Pack. Formerly the Muslims (changed after some offensive remarks were made), the San Diego four piece adopted the name of their first effort (also titled The Soft Pack), and put out their second full-length record. Like the tunes leading up to this, their self-titled debut as The Soft Pack is the kind of music that promotes lots of jumping around and the strong possibility for alcohol abuse around lots of people. The key word here is… “fun.” Nothing more, nothing less — much like their music, which has always been just as straightforward and exciting.
From the opening hook of Cmon youre in, and by the second verse you’re singing along to that one word chorus. The following track, Down on Loving, uses the same formula: to get its point stuck in your head as fast as possible. These songs Velcro themselves to you, and not just a few, all of them. Collectively, the record progresses along quite nicely, opening up along the way. It’s not all about being fast and furious, either. The band opts to offer a break with the contemplative Tides of Time and the elated beach dream Mexico, two songs that reveal there’s more to this band than they initially let on. Plus, a little variety only adds to an already fantastic experience.
Theres a creative continuity on this record, as well, and one that strings it all together with huge chords and fast riffs. Its a healthy flow to get swept up in as it stays in its own bounds. That being said, the band’s also not afraid to dig out a deeper identity with the song’s accessories. Album closer Parasites pops and blasts while it motors through with squealing guitars beatings against sonic walls. Theyve learned very well how to mix up the guiding guitar chunks with something more to sink your teeth into which, in hindsight, keeps you from getting jaded.
Beyond the noise, the words provide just as much punch. The Soft Pack successfully uses lyrics to build up the energy and send out a message, be it deep or nothing at all. Themes can venture into the somewhat topical, as is the case with Pull Out, where the band vents their frustrations with their native “happy” state. This one in particular hits back to the ’80s west coast punk scene in a way that even the likes of Frank Black could dig. On the other hand, a song like Flammable, another standout, is simply a song about fire, which makes sense given the rolling bass breakdown and lightning drums that you can bang your head to.
Given the simplicity in their style, from the blunt and honest lyrics to the proven melodies, it’s hard not to be charmed by The Soft Pack. There’s a rawness that doesn’t leave you rare, rather, it’s perfectly balanced between just enough lo-fi and keeping things sharp. With their intentions lying open and out there, you get right to the heart of the matter. If they do decide to broaden things down the road, thats great, but for now we have a new home for the catchy punk rock thats been missing from our lives lately.
The enjoyment here comes from The Soft Pack’s consistency and ability to keep you moving in the best of ways. In the end, the guys arent trying to be anything but the party band theyve always been, they just so happened to receive attention. That being said, the bars been set quite high on this debut, and after the all too quick 30 minutes are up, youre still left wanting more. Some might say it’s too early to tell, but dont be surprised if this is one of the records that linger around your stereo throughout the year.