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Album Review

by P.H.F.

Crystal Magic Records

Review Date
18th September 2015
Reviewed by
Chris Cudby

Soft like the Macpac puffer jacket I'm wearing right now, so cozy and warm with its duck down and Pertex Microlight lining? Soft like the marshmallow-y sole of a Yeezy Boost sneaker, hyper-inflated in value by shoe fanatics on a speculator driven e-market? Or maybe just Soft like some dude's flaccid dick? Listening to PHF's new album of synth-drenched slowjams suggests all three and more.

Soft is another curveball by the mysterious Auckland artist, making a Tony Hawk Pro Skater-like leap from the virtual skate park of his previous (and classic) punk-pop album Grind State into dazed interstate highway vistas. Soft swaps out the those bubblegum guitars and punchy melodies for twinkly, glacial VST soft-synths (geddit?) and a distinctive mid-tempo croon conveying feelings of stasis and a contemplative moment in the artist's often riotous back-catalogue. Which doesn't for a moment mean that Soft isn't rammed full of bangers, they're just bangers of a non-punk rawk variety - nodding in the direction of recent NZ synth-pop trailblazers (it's released via Crystal Magic Records, duh) while putting PHF's impossible-to-pin-down, 'vaguely hostile but pretty fun I guess' spin on the whole affair.

The title-track runs deep, epic John Carpenter-esque synth pads tug the heartstrings while indecipherable vocals drawl emotively - cinematic vibes of broken teen romance mix with tacit Black Hole abject horror. 'I Ran (My Mouth)' has a frazzled, over caffeinated 'it's 4pm in the office and I feel terrible' aura of regret hanging around its delicate, light-as-a-feather melodies, while on the Lynchian 'Y&B' PHF reimagines himself as non-other than a male Julee Cruise, creating a niche literally no-one knew they wanted until right now.

PHF is clearly a total smartass and Soft is yet another winner from the hyper prolific artist - it's an exceptionally adventurous, challenging and successfully ambitious album while being pure sugar. Cop it and catch PHF's live show already you dummies they're one of the best live bands going.



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