we-review-soft-hairs-self-titled-debut

We Review Soft Hair’s Self-titled Debut

words by Bernie Bolger

Soft Hair is the collaborative project of Connan Mockasin and LA Priest (Sam Dust). This project and its debut album have been in the works for 5 years as both their solo careers blossomed and took precedence of time.

The duo met when Connan supported Late of the Pier (Sam dusts old band) on tour in 2009, and their relationship strengthened over the years after a small feud between the two bands. The foundation of Soft Hair was laid down when the pair was living together in New Zealand.

The idea of these two musicians collaborating is exciting enough to behold. Both with their unique vocal styles and takes on genre, it’s a psychedelic pop fusion. When recording the album, they used recording methods neither of them had attempted before, finding new ways to create sounds. I’m not sure whether the timeline of release impacts the final product of the recording methods but there is definitely some level of familiarity on the record.

The album flourishes throughout with lush, sonic satisfaction. It is intricate, alt-pop disguised as easy listening. At times, a chord progression may get lost in ambitious sound design and layering. This is why repeat listens are rewarded, allowing for familiarity to create a base for further reading into the tracks.

To some the album may come off as more thematically shallow to fans of either of the members solo work. There is less ambition and more leisure in its impression, and with this, it comes off a tad more sporadic. This could most definitely be attributed to the long and patchy production timeline and/or the cocktail of influence the two minds present.

The re-used collaboration ‘A Goood Sign’ (‘A Good Sign’ on LA Priest’s debut record), fits so well with the album that it was a no brainer to whack in the middle of the listing. Another re-iteration comes in the form of the album version of ‘Lying has to stop’ (our first taste of Soft Hair came in its single form earlier this year). The start of the song has been postponed by a brooding atmos; typical of Connan and reminiscent of his album Caramel.

‘i.v.’ is a slightly depressing interlude at 90 seconds of length, accentuated in annoyance by the buzz of a mosquito at the tracks close. Adding a letter (l.i.v.), proves not to assist the appeal of the second interlude/outro-structured track that continues on from ‘Alive without Medicine’, which itself is great jam that grooves along to repeated swoon of the songs name. ‘i.v.’ and ‘l.i.v.’ add unnecessary ambience to what is already a spaced out album.

Conversely, ‘In Love’ is a great example of a much more focussed track that happens to be effortlessly attractive. It is a cut and a half above the already raised bar of musical ideas on the album. It blooms in the second half as a distant saxophone glides over reverberating synth stabs.
Fans of Connan and/or LA Priest will adore this album. Both artists bring a lot to the table and the result (for the most part) is a collection of well-constructed songs. As a whole, it does feel as though Sam Dusts more varied and out-there style is stuffed into a Connan shaped box, making the album sound much more recognizable (another Connan album) than if Dusts influences permeated more-so. The slow pace of the album makes the 32-minute running time feel longer than it is, and it makes for great listening as a whole.

Rating: ★★★★

Soft Hair’s ‘Soft Hair’ is available now via Bandcamp.

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