I’ve been dwelling on Seattle band The Soft Hills‘ new LP, Chromatisms, for several weeks now. It’s been a stumper; there are so many songs here that I dig, like feature track “Sweet Louise” and the mysterious “Dear Mr. Moonlight”. Yet I’ve had a tough time finding the words.
This is not the first time; this has happened before. It happened with Beach House’s breathtaking LP Teen Dream, which was ultimately a top 3 album of 2009. It happened with Acid House Kings’ Music Sounds Better With You from 2011 (another top LP of the year). So it’s not necessarily a bad place to be.
I think the element that has caused my internal struggle has been the rock nature of The Soft Hills form of psych. It’s more centric to the music than I’m used to, and in a different manner than, say, Wooden Shjips or Moon Duo, whose music is truly drenched in psych.
“Sweet Louise” mixes psychedelic rock with shoegaze sensibilities for a very heavy sound, but — and listening to it again, it may sound funny to say this — they do it so lightly, so delicately. It’s a contradiction that The Soft Hills have mastered throughout Chromatisms.
The song received video treatment in the most psychedelic way: it’s a dizzying array of color, overlapping video. It’s enough to make your head spin.
Get into the song and you’ll find the psych-rock takes a dive into shoegaze. And there’s pop as well; “Sweet Louise” will make you nod your head. So there’s a lot going on. Some elements are familiar, but The Soft Hills cast this familiarity in a new light.
Chromatisms is out today, February 19 on Tapete Records. Watch “Sweet Louise” and listen to a snippet of superb opening track “Riding High” below. Above photo by Nick Tobin