The Soft Set
Reviewed by Michael Chamy, Fri., June 7, 2002
The Soft SetSofter than the Soft Boys, yet not as soft as the American Analog Set, the Soft Set should prove an immediate sensation among Austin's twee-pop set. Their debut opens with a winner in "Meg Tilly," a Belle & Sebastian-sounding anglophiliac hero-worship love song. All decent bands from these parts have at least one song where they truly nail it, and the Soft Set nails it at the outset. The following "Never Felt That Way" actually references Belle & Sebastian (ironically) in the song's first line, and though that song doesn't reflect it, the Soft Set do tap generously into that same retro-Nick Drake/Carpenters vibe. They're generally successful, though the wispy vocals sometimes stray off the mark. As things proceed, the Soft Set show an iron underbelly, "Record On" being hard-pumping indie-pop goodness, with a throbbing bassline and the most distortion of any track on the album. The band returns to its airy, retro ways before finishing things off with another fuzzy rocker, "Delivered Too Late," which sounds like a different band with its sassier, grittier tone and sound. The Pavement influence on this cut is confirmed by the (more irony) inclusion of lines from the Slanted and Enchanted nugget "Here" ("I was dressed for success ...") at the end. The Soft Set have carved out a solid building block of a debut, though they may still be in the process of discovering just what they're capable of.