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Wednesday, Dec 04, 2013

Soft Lions emit diverse sounds on new EP

Members of Boy King and New Kinetics combine forces

By Jeff Terich

Soft Lions No Peace (self-released)

Whenever established musicians form a new band, there’s an expectation that it will sound like their old bands. But that doesn’t always end up happening. When The New Pornographers released their debut album, Mass Romantic, in 2000, for instance, it featured little to no trace of Destroyer’s David Bowieesque art-pop or Neko Case’s alt-country ballads.

Similarly, the three members of Soft Lions carry the name recognition of a handful of notable San Diego bands—Boy King, The New Kinetics and Wild Wild Wets, to name a few. And yet, save for the instantly recognizable vocals of Megan Liscomb, there aren’t many easy threads that trace back to any of their other past or present projects. That’s a good thing. When you’ve already done one sound, why do it again?

Soft Lions, a self-described “moody psychedelic post-riot-grrrl noise” band, is a fresh new start for the trio, and as such, the songs that come beaming out of their debut EP, No Peace, sound fresh, as well. While the description they coined doesn’t really give the full picture, it at least offers a glimpse into their eclectic approach. In fact, each song on No Peace sounds remarkably different from the last, suggesting that Soft Lions may still be working out exactly what kind of band they are. The good news is that the four tracks they’ve recorded here present some great ideas in progress.

The first track, “Horses,” is the best of the bunch, a five-minute dirge with an intoxicating blend of Rhodes piano, a booming tomtom rhythm, hypnotic vocal harmonies and a fair amount of reverb. It moves slowly but feels grand, gradually building into a dense bridge that fleshes out the intriguing sound with which it begins. This transitions into sparse, zither-driven indie pop on “I Slept in this Dress”; Sleater- Kinney-style punk on the title track; and a dreamy, ’50s-influenced ballad with “This Life.”

Indeed, No Peace hops all over the place without remaining in one spot for too long, but it’s fun listening to Soft Lions piece together their identity—one song at a time.

Email or follow him at @1000TimesJeff