Album review: Soft Metals “Lenses”

by Irene Lo

The sophomore album, Lenses, by Los Angeles-based electronic duo Soft Metals, picks up right where they left off in their previous album, Captured Tracks, in creating an insomniac’s landscape of dense tunes that slow down the heartbeat and wake up the body. The atmosphere is heavy and hypnotic, almost ready to turn the corner, but in the end, minimalism pervades. Their signature style is a pulsing core of ethereal female vocals in line with an 80s revival with a hint of Miss Kittin and the Hacker.

The two singles, “Tell me” and “In the Air,” are a steady trip through dark space illuminated every now and then by moody synthesizer, and sparkling sounds. Representative of what the album as a whole has to offer, they are not wide of the mark. The first track “Lenses” is similar to “Tell Me” in its sedate blend of futuristic vintage- the musical influences of past decades are present, and the drawn-out vocals only add to and enhance this.

“When I Look Into Your Eyes” is a tune that doesn’t get weighed down by a minimalistic M.O. that can produce serious ennui. It’s instant gratification; sensual in a breathy way. The next song, “No Turning Back”, returns us to that sense of quiet menace that characterizes Lenses. From there, it’s “Hourglass”, an instrumental track that’s retro-great in how evocative of the 80s it is. The main notes mesmerize without enervating the listener.

Hall proceeds to sings in “On a Cloud” about how she doesn’t want to leave being on a cloud. Continuing with the love theme, it’s about feeling that her troubles can’t find her when she is in her lover’s arms. The light weight of the song aims to induce the heady feeling of being on cloud nine. Think spaced out. Think relaxed.

The penultimate track, “In the Air”, is a beat that keeps on giving. It’s fun, certainly catchy, but a cosmic constant of distance remains. “Interobserver” is the last instrumental as well last song of the album, and looking at previous track titles, it’s no surprise “Interobserver” carries on the outer space trend with what is, in effect, the background music to galactic exploration, or an arcade game loosely based on it. Appropriate either way.

Mixing outer space motifs with love lyrics, the cosmic dance journey imagined by Soft Metals is at an end. For now.

Release date: July 16, 2013