Although these guys have been around for a while, they haven’t hit upon many peoples radar. Their gentle, considered, simple approach to music and songs has left them fall in the shadows of others psych indie sensations such as fleet foxes and Red House Painters. However, after being very busy recording three albums in 3 years, I think The Soft Hills are due for some time in the sun.
Their earlier releases of ‘The Bird Is Coming Down to Earth’ and ‘Chromatisms’ and were pretty lo-fi and sounded like demo’s aiming for the likes of Interpol or the Pixies. But this latest release show shows how developed their style has become. In the earlier releases, singer and main songwriter Garret Hobba’s influences from 70’s men like Neil Young was obvious and both comparison and criticism was unavoidable. But Hobba and the band have really come into their own with the latest album, ‘Departure’ is certainly that of its namesake.
The flow of ‘Departure’ is well thought out, drifting from one mood to the next, and it seems we get an insight into Hobba’s sensitivities. The opening track ‘Golden Hour’ displays an emotional brightness reminiscent of ‘100%’ that Thurston Moor would be proud of. This is in contrast to track such as ‘Black Flowers’ and ‘White Queen’ which are more wistful and pensive.
In terms of production is more solid and more intricate than their previous albums. This album was tracked in the countryside using a production methods such as using analogue tape and large traditional recording spaces (see their Youtube cilp). You can really feel the influence of this environment in ‘Departure’ – it has sparse sweeping guitar parts co-existing with tight drums and sweet piano melodies. Overall The Soft Hills’ find a good balance between ethereal and pop sentiments, whilst remaining melancholic. I found bitter-sweetness in the choice of musical key changes and instrumentation is kept earnest and interesting.
Most like – Red House Painters cross Doves (UK).
Listen – in the twilight of a Sunday afternoon with an early glass of red.