Northern Transmissions’ very own Charles Brownstein caught up with Matty McLoughin from The Soft Pack recently to shoot the shit about his band’s new record, Strapped. When discussing the release of Strapped, the question arose about the introduction of saxophone to The Soft Pack’s garage rock schtick. McLoughin divulged that Kenny G’s choice of instrument boasts a powerful sound that is familiar to people’s ears. Don’t worry, The Soft Pack haven’t turned into a lounge act or a band that could soundtrack relaxing in the tub, the added layers of brass provide a level of texture that binds together the traditional clatter of guitar, bass and drums.
On ‘Second Look’ the saxophone is heard in fleeting blasts while the band jingle jangle their strings and rattle their drum skins. To add to the saxophone, an organ pipes into the mix to add another layer of sound. Equally, on ‘Oxford Avenue’ the brass is plentiful with short, sharp blasts until the instrumental gathers pace sounding like it is being played by someone who is hyperventilating. This is where The Soft Pack channel their inner psych rock demons for a full two minutes. These two minutes are then superseded when the last track ‘Captain Ace’ pushes the freak out moments to kaleidoscopic levels for nearly seven minutes.
When not beaming in wig out moments from yesteryear, The Soft Pack go all Velvet Underground on ‘Head on Ice’ and ‘Bound to Fail’ with Matt Lamkin’s vocal sounding like a tuneful Lou Reed while the band bust and drone in the background. So we have brass, drone rock and then ‘Bobby Brown’ brings in the white-boy funk with processed beats. The track named after Whitney Houston’s spouse feels like the odd one out on Strapped as the 80’s vibe doesn’t mix well with the garage rock found on the rest of the record, props to the band for branching out and trying out a new sound though.
When not dabbling with other styles the rest of Strapped captures The Soft Pack in fine form with ‘China Town’ and ‘Ray’s Mistake’ capturing the band at their garage rock best. Strapped is a record that isn’t afraid to experiment and it’s fair to say the results are pretty conclusive, save for the white-boy funk.
Words and Thoughts of Adam Williams