ALBUM REVIEW: Dead Kids R.I.P. City by Soft Kill

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WRITTEN BY: Vince Barreras

The time has finally arrived. Soft Kill has presented their newest effort Dead Kids R.I.P. City. The Portland based band has been steadily releasing music for the greater part of the 2010s. Whether studio releases, demo tapes (and a lot of them), or splits and singles, Soft Kill are one of the hardest working bands in independent music. They work tirelessly with their merch and are always putting out music, whether they are limited cassettes of demos or splits with other bands. This time, the band has released their next proper full length, making this their fifth or sixth record (depending on if you consider certain EPs or mixtapes as a part of their official discography). Regardless, Soft Kill continues to bring dark moodiness and raw energy to their sound. This time with the additions of some friends, the wonderful Tamaryn and Adam Klopp of Choir Boy, the result is nothing short of a modern day masterpiece. 

The sound Soft Kills brings is iconic. They combine elements of post-punk, and shoegaze into their music and it creates sort of an ohmage to certain chapters of The Cure’s discography (think Pornography era Cure). Soft Kill is great at making huge sounding music and the production on each of their records is better than the last — Dead Kids R.I.P. City is no different. The opening track “Roses All Around” is evidence of that. The band incorporates haunting vocals that seem to echo on, with a drum and synth section that adds to this ambience to the space this song exists in. The versatility of the band is on display as this soft spoken track morphs into “Wanting War,” a more upbeat and dancey post-punk sound. This song in particular has been featured in the band’s live performances for some time, most recently Soft Kill’s 2019 Audiotree session. It’s nice to see this song being properly released. It is well deserved, and easily one of the band’s best songs. These two songs are definitely different in terms of energy as well as the two songs “Matty Rue” ft. Adam Klopp and “Floodgate” ft. Tamaryn. “Matty Rue” has more bright synths and an upbeat energy, whereas “Floodgate” is more shoegaze heavy, and darker. Both of these songs reflect the featured artists own style as well, with Soft Kill adding their own flavor to it. The band really pushes the sound of their guitars to the next level on “Floodgate.” With the song “Crimey,” you get kind of a mashup of those previous songs, strong synths and experimental sounding guitar tones.

Soft Kill bring the energy up with “Pretty Face,” not only one of the record’s singles, but perhaps one of the strongest on the record. It is dark, bleak, and punchy as anything Soft Kill has ever put out. It’s a song about drug addiction and the damaging effects of drug overdoses, the main theme of this record. Soft Kill were able to follow this song up with “Ducky” and “Inverness” a more upbeat, and melodic type of track. The final two songs, the over eight minute long ballet “Oil Burner” is such a beautiful track that adds space to the sound that this record captures. It is slow, strung out, and fierce. Like they say, all good things must come to an end, and “I Needed the Pain” is that track, building off the momentum of the previous. This one is more stripped back with nothing more than an acoustic guitar, light keys, and lead singer Tobias Grave giving a heartfelt performance, as per usual.This record continues to get better with each listen. Whether it is the high production, brilliant songwriting, or just Soft Kill’s ability to continue to write songs in this style and make all of them addictive to listen to, this record is a must. Soft Kill went out to make a classic record, and they really achieved that with Dead Kids R.I.P. City. This record hits hard and for all the right reasons. It is truly incredible that after all these years, and all of these releases, the band is still able to capture that excitement, and continue to push themselves as musicians as if this were their first LP. Soft Kill are actually living legends and will go down as a not only a classic band, but the formula for future indie bands to follow.

Tracklist:

  1. Roses All Around
  2. Wanting War
  3. Matty Rue ft. Adam Klopp
  4. Floodgate ft. Tamaryn
  5. Crimey
  6. Pretty Face
  7. Ducky 
  8. Inverness
  9. Oil Burner
  10. I Needed the Pain

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