Here comes the hype train! Man of the moment Rathborne is the next big thing apparently; that’s if you listen to all the cool kids and Disc Jockeys trying to out do each other in predicting the next artist to rise through the swath of musicians trying to make it. The people who get it right will be awash with ‘I knew him before he was big’ or ‘it was because of people like me supporting him that he’s huge!’ But if we look passed all the press and propaganda, is Rathborne’s new record Soft just a hipsters new fad or something with substance?
First of all, when listening to Soft, you’re gunna here a lot of comparisons with other artists. This isn’t a bad thing, as it’s done is a very refreshing way; instead of following the crowd, Rathborne looks deep inside his heart, and pulls out artists he truly loves and appreciates. T-Rex, Velvet Underground, The Strokes, The Stooges, Sonic Youth, Ramones – they’re all here set against Rathborne’s unmistakable style and innocence. This is none more so than in album-titled track Soft; it kicks off the record in sublime style with 70s glam sounds and Bolan-esque vocals, setting up the tone of the music nicely.
What Rathborne manages to do well is flit from one sound to another in an almost experimental fashion. One minute we’re in Ramones territory with I’m So Tired, the next your in dreamland with the light and airy lust for escape from Wanna Be You. This works well to keep the listener interested and is testament the Rathbornes skill.
Low! manages to keep with the Punk undertones, but filters out the hard edge and replaces it with early 90s alt-rock (think Sonic Youth for a new generation), cleverly backing this up with angsty lyrics fresh from the pain: ‘and it hurts me just to know you’re doing fine’. If you’re looking for a change of pace, Little Moment’s echo-laden vocals make for a sweet acoustic track, whereas Eno takes tips from the late Lou Reed to give its frantic sound and element of swagger.
You can tell Rathborne loves music, and in making Soft, he’s managed to show off his influences in an interesting way that also feeds through his own talent and skill in equal measures. This is a hard thing to master; too many artists end up blatantly copying there heroes instead of honouring them like Rathborne does. Soft is one album where the hype machine is warranted, as it’s a cracker of an album and deserves to do well.