I have a completely-filled 120 GB iPod classic, the record crate of the digital age, containing my entire music library. I’m listening to each release in alphabetical order by record title – kind of a virtual archaeological dig. These are my findings.
Previously published in summer 2009. Presented here with some revision.
It’s hard to tell if Soft Complex is even still together anymore. I just checked their Myspace page, and they hadn’t logged in between March 2008 and September 2010. They had a single out at some point in there. But Barcelona, essentially a 3-song EP with 5 remixes, remains their only release so far. And it came out in 2006.
Questions about the status of the band aside, Soft Complex actually has an impressive D.C. pedigree, featuring members of Burning Airlines, Engine Down, and Phaser. And let me get this out of my system: Holy Smiths fixation. Forget the Desoto Records family tree, and look toward England for your references: besides The Smiths, influences include The Cure, Depeche Mode, and New Order. Singer Shane German’s voice has more than a passing resemblance to Bernard Sumner. These are not bad things.
But unfortunately, because there are only three songs here to give you a sense of what the band’s all about, you’re really left wanting more, particularly once you realize that the five remixes are there to pad the album and do nothing else. But the electro/Britpop title track, slower “Sad Note,” and wiry “Beat the Chill” are all worth your time. And I know they’ve got more up their sleeves – I saw them play a few years ago, which is how I discovered them in the first place. They played a full, energetic set to a less-than-capacity bar, while an Eagles playoff game on television sapped audience attention. And yet they rocked, which meant a trip to the merch table.
The remixes, for the most part, fall pretty flat. The low-key dubstep version of “Barcelona” by Brooks Harlan works, but is far too long at over eight minutes. The crunchier “Son’s Red Eye Remix,” also of the title track, fares even better. The rest either add nothing or flat out don’t work, like the “Ace Remix” of “Beat the Chill” which actually drops a rap verse in the middle of the song. It’s a really stupid and ill-conceived move – Soft Complex aren’t really conducive to that treatment.
RIYL: The Smiths, New Order, The Cure