Breezy Autumn dreampop vibes.
Soft, airbrushed, dayglo feathers is how I’d describe the brand of rock Soft Set create. Soft Set are duo James Grey and Nathan Athay. They’ve been working with each other musically for well over a decade but Soft Set is their first EP as a collaboration together and they place their music firmly in the dreampop genre. Their debut EP ‘Loving and Dancing’ is a pillowy collection of uptempo acoustic rock tracks that have that moany middle ages man vocal that pairs so well with the vibe.
Across the five tracks, acoustic guitar is peppered with electric guitar embellishments or occasional synth or strings. Draping over it will often be dual vocals from James and Nathan that give the otherwise bright and uplifting melodies a bit of sadness. The vocals have a misty-eyed sepia tone to them not only because of how they sound but also because the lyrics all speak simpler times. They talk of love and wanting to be loved and often give nuggets of advice. ‘Never Die’ and ‘Ours for Us’ both fit this mould really well and the latter track is an absolute gem. Along with closing chirpy rocker ‘December’, fans of bands like Happy Mondays, Dexy’s Midnight Runners and perhaps Ride and Happy Mondays will enjoy this. On tracks like the dreamy ‘7 on Up’, fans of C Duncan will fall head over heels with the airy synth first approach to the melodies and music.
Soft Set make music that reminds me of the kind of songs you’d find on the radios in the late ’80s and early ’90s when mainstream radio would try and pull in easy listening rock onto a playlist. Whilst the juxtaposition between elegant acoustic rock and rougher pub vocals may not appeal to some, I’d argue they balance each other out to provide a middle road that should please a lot of people looking for the whimsical but happy side of pop-rock. Add a point on if you love a bit of peak REM.
Recommended track: 7 on Up
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