Dead Soft

Big Blue

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It's been somewhat of a slow build for Dead Soft. The Vancouver fuzz-pop trio has been releasing music since 2011, turning in a succession of smartly written EPs, singles, cassettes, and one full-length for a variety of small, mostly Canadian labels. Fronted from its start by the core duo of singer/guitarist Nathaniel Epp and bassist/singer Keeley Rochon, the band's steadfast commitment to writing, recording, and touring paid off in 2018 when they signed on with Toronto powerhouse Arts + Crafts (Broken Social Scene, Stars, Feist) and delivered New Emotion, a five-song EP that distilled into one hefty slab many of their best attributes. They follow it up here with their sophomore album, Big Blue, a transformative set of rippling energy, thunderous riffs, and a keen melodic sense that helps set them apart from the scads of other contemporary bands mining similar '90s-inspired grunge and indie territories. It says something of Epp's and Rochon's intensity that they scrapped most of Big Blue's original sessions and left home, moving to the more remote Gabriola Island where they worked hard to dial in on the essence and nuances of their craft. Judging by the results, it was the right move to help Dead Soft ascend to the next level. Although the material is reflective of both personal and cultural anxieties, an even greater portion of Big Blue is given over to themes of change and growth. Massive in tone and bold in melody, standouts "I Believe You," "Tulips," and "Trimmer" waver between bittersweet introspection and warm optimism over soaring walls of sound which occasionally verge into dream pop and shoegaze. There are surprising shifts and subtle details throughout the set, though everything that's here feels essential and in tight focus. Likewise, the album's robust production ensures that every kilowatt of power is drawn out of this fabulous power trio on what is easily their best release yet.

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