If you’ve been frequenting this site for the past few months you may recall that the Brooklyn-based indie rock act SOFTSPOT was initially founded in 2009 as a duo featuring its founding members Sarah Kinlaw and Bryan Keller, Jr. And other the past few years, the act has gradually evolved into a quartet featuring some of the NYC’s more accomplished and talented musicians, who have a history of collaborating with each other in a wild, almost unfettered creativity; in fact, as the story goes, Kinlaw and Keller, Jr. recruited long-time friends Blake Bateh, a member of JOVM mainstays Bambara (drums), who joined the band for the recording of MASS and Jonathan Campelo, a member of Pill (synths), who joined the band during the tour to support MASS.
Arrowhawk Records, the label home of Bambara, Cinemechanica and White Laces, released the band’s latest effort Clearing last week, and the album is the first recorded effort featuring the band’s current (and expanded) lineup — and interestingly, the album finds the band refining their sound and songwriting approach. Clearing’s first single “Abalone,” was a spectral yet tense single that featured a tightly syncopated rhythm section, shimmering guitar lines and twinkling synths and Kinlaw’s ethereal and expensive vocals. “Heat Seeker,” Clearing’s second single continues in a similar vein as it possesses an equally haunting and specetal quality while drawing from New Wave as the song features slashing guitar attack with propulsive metronomic-like drumming and Kinlaw’s vocals expressing the difficulties and frustrations in attaining true and lasting connections with others — while revealing a novelistic approach to its narrator psychological makeup. “Habits,” the album’s third and latest single is an atmospheric, slow-burning, and moody track that seems to draw from jazz, psych rock, indie rock, and pop while being roomy enough to allow Kinlaw’s expressive and ethereal vocals room to dance and roam through an equally gorgeous arrangement. And throughout, there’s a visceral ache as the song focuses on loss and memory — but with a dark, uneasy undercurrent.
Produced and filmed by New Media, Ltd, the gorgeously cinematic black and white video has Kinlaw, who interestingly enough is a choreographer, room to expressively dance in empty rooms and negative spaces. At points, her movements are edited like a stop-motion film, and it gives the video a surreal, dream-like logic before showing Kinlaw’s long and seemingly final descent into darkness.