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Album Review

by The Soft Pack


Review Date
January 27th 2010
Reviewed by
Gareth Meade

In 1979 Iggy Pop declared that he was bored. His ennui was aimless, hitting out at everything disgusting around him. And yet, his boredom was premature. Even though punk was arguably over as soon as it started, there was still plenty of inspiration to be found in its descendants, stretching right through the next two decades of guitar music. Indeed, if ever there was a time that Iggy should assert his sheer antipathy with anything, especially music, it may well be now.

Why? Perhaps you should aim that question at San Diego’s The Soft Pack (nee The Muslims). Seemingly having forgotten that it’s not yet a decade since The Strokes released Is This It? and kick started a rock revival of their own (plundering a veritable garage sale of old vinyl and updating it with originality and attitude) The Soft Pack are trying to pay homage to the same era. But instead of coming across as reverential, their efforts barely qualify as a pastiche, whereby every song on their 10 track EP Extinction sounds like it is from the worst releases by The Modern Lovers, The Velvet Underground or The Stooges.

It’s tempting to lay the majority of the blame on lead singer Matt Lamkin, because with the exception of ‘Bright Side’, ‘Future Rock’ and ‘Extinction’ it sounds like he wishes he was channelling Jonathan Richman or Iggy Pop. But then of course, these tracks still sound like the bands from those singer’s respective outfits. It really is not a point to hammer home lightly.

Then there are titles like ‘American’, ‘Religion’ and the aforementioned ‘Extinction’, which make you wonder if perhaps The Soft Pack are trying to say something. But if that is the case it only really comes across on album closer (and highlight) ‘Right and Wrong’, the only track that spins an interesting, if unexpected, tale about mid-twentieth century privilege and segregation.

So where does this leave us? Some might argue that hopeful revivalists have the ability to introduce a new generation to their influences. And if that is the case, if you really haven’t heard anything by the bands mentioned above, then you probably will enjoy this purposefully raw and roughly hewn take on rock n roll. There is certainly rhythm here and the “alright, oh yeah’s” of ‘Bright Side’ and “Woah oh oh’s” of ‘Nightlife’ are interminably catchy. But where does it leave The Soft Pack once their fans discover how much better their influences are? Time (and not very much of it) will tell.

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