This is the debut release by Dublin 3-piece SOFT ON CRIME. Its members have been lurking in locally based bands both relatively known and utterly obscure for as long as I can remember (Pet Lamb, Jubilee Allstars, Dinah Brand etc.), mostly plying a trade in willful reticence. This particular group self-references as “sloppy pop”, and while this is somewhat accurate, its modesty and faux-diffidence is also a ruse. IN THE TERRANIUM pretends to be the work of a rudimentary garage pop band, but in plain earshot packs a wide gamut of ideas into what initially seems like a very unembellished formula. Clearly, this is not the IPA induced spawn of hamfisted beardfiddlers who very recently discovered the Nuggets compilations on Spotify.
SOFT ON CRIME’s IN THE TERRANIUM was released digitally on June 1st 2019 and is due a suitably late and understated cassette release at the beginning of July.
It’s no surprise that I WON’T TRY is the fanfare track here – hook driven and finely crafted, I probably listened to it five times on repeat before digging in any further. Right down to the harmonies and handclaps, it effortlessly validates itself as the sort of obscure power pop gem that undeservingly falls through a random crack in time, ending up sandwiched between a forgotten band and a late career junkie on a Bomp! compilation. THE UNCOMMON GOOD alternates between a dirty jangler and a guitar stomp with flourishes of psychedelic keyboard detail and a commendable thinness that serves aspiration toward garage authenticity. STALACTITE and ANYTHING ANYTHING expand beyond simply pandering to a guitar-pop sweet tooth – the later is a particularly ambitious piece of songwriting considering what is packed neatly into two and a half minutes. This and the opener, as two sides of the same coin, demonstrate impressive scope for a debut and are perhaps the rough-cut sonic nuggets here. Finally, the curiously titled PITTED NECK sits on a melodic bass line and slack drumbeat, returning to something simple and mid-paced to wrap it all up.
The beauty of this particular recording is that it seems to be capturing a moment – Take the same musicians and the same five songs into a costly professional studio environment and the results would be very different (and likely less interesting) than those recorded in the auspicious acoustics of “Lee’s gaff” where this was apparently tracked. As a former fanzine writer, it all pleasantly reminds me of random scruffy little masterpieces that would arrive in the post in the early 90s on precious TDK tapes before independent music could afford CDs, stamps, tear sheets and press shots.
…And while the execution is certainly not “sloppy” like the band’s self-effacing tag line suggests, there is an amiably imperfect nature to it all… one that definitely suits the material being presented. This is a confident little flame of psychedelic garage pop that owes a debt of gratitude to its grimy old strings, rusty jack plugs and amps with spiders living in them – think Bubblepuppy rather than the Byrds – think The Last rather than Love. Right down to the fact that this lined up as a cassette release, SOFT ON CRIME very knowingly embraces a ramshackle-fidelity aesthetic and flips it into a charming virtue.
Limited edition cassette releases 1st July
More Irish releases here…