Soft Walls

No Time

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AllMusic Review by

On No Time, Cold Pumas member and Faux Discx founder Dan Reeves takes Soft Walls a few steps away from the bedroom experiments of the project's self-titled debut. Where Soft Walls was an uneven but intriguing collection of largely impromptu recordings, Reeves gives his second solo album more care, borrowing an eight-track for a cleaner and more detailed sound that matches its more thoughtful songwriting and thematic concerns. Fittingly, No Time revolves around existential dread caused by time (or the lack thereof) and telegraphed in insistent guitars, lockstep drum patterns, and claustrophobic arrangements. Paradoxically, this painstaking approach delivers some of Soft Walls' most immediate and hypnotic music, such as the album opener "Won't Remember My Name," a bleak, narcotic rocker in the vein of the Velvet Underground (as well as the Soft Walls highlight "Black Cat") and the similarly dark and chugging "Foot of the Stairs." No Time's concept helps focus Reeves' music, but he also brings different facets to its urgency. Not surprising given Cold Pumas' fondness for Krautrock, many of the best moments here are driven by a motorik beat. The nervy "Never Come Back Again" evokes a breezier version of the Soft Moon's churning paranoia; "Guided Through" sounds a little like a Cold Pumas song played underwater; and "All the Same" sets its relentless rhythm ablaze with searing guitar work. Despite No Time's newfound polish and focus, Reeves still uses his lo-fi aesthetic expressively. The echo and static coating these songs give them a worn, distant feeling that's equally charming and ominous, at times recalling Dirty Beaches' murky sound paintings on the interludes "Early in the Day" and "Slumbering." Reeves' sound-shaping also shines on the title track's doom-folk, which offers a change of scenery but maintains the album's brooding tension, and on the wistful album closer "Transient View," where fluttering keyboards offer a slight glimmer of hope. A deep, heady trip, No Time is a step forward for Soft Walls that builds on the debut's strengths and suggests even more potential for Reeves' future solo outings.

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