The Soft Boys

Wading Through a Ventilator

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Don't be fooled by this EP's late release date. The songs here were recorded in 1977; thus, this platter showcases some of the band's earliest available studio recordings. Sporting an early pre-Kimberly Rew, pre-Matthew Seligman lineup, this album contains six energetic numbers that rudimentarily hint at the inspired strangeness of later Soft Boys songs. "Hear My Brane," afor example, is an uptempo selection of rather fuzzy tonal focus which is based on a repeated guitar riff idea clearly presaging that of Underwater Moonlight's "You'll Have to Go Sideways." "The Face of Death" features a slow-moving vocal line propelled by a skittering downbeat (an idea that would be done even better on "Old Pervert," also from Underwater Moonlight.) "Give It to the Soft Boys" is essentially a rocking, hot jazz-influenced number somewhat marred by an unbalanced mix that swallows up the drums. The best selection here is the title track, a swirling, flailing, nearly atonal wall-of-noise number (with an incongruous John Lennon-influenced middle section) that is as close to a punk song as the group gets. Production and sound quality are uneven, sometimes good but at other times oddly mixed or lacking presence. This is an intriguing if not essential release that fans of this band will find interesting.