Taking the concept of high gloss to ridiculous extremes, Soft Hair is an amalgam of Connan Hosford (Connan Mockasin) and Sam Eastgate (LA PRIEST, Late of The Pier). Crafted piecemeal over seven years, the duo’s eponymous LP plays out like a conceptual succession to the grandiose I’m The Man, That Will Find You from Mockasin’s 2015 album Caramel. From the outset, it’s clear that irreverent album pushes away the stern-faced packaging of the current wave of experimental electronic music à la Bon Iver’s 22, A Million. Touching upon revivified retro pastiche and the backward looking futurism of streaming culture, Soft Hair melds on the nose pop cliché into escapist romanticism.
Opener Jealous Lies’ disco rhythms and wonky synth riffs accompany purring confessions of paranoid anxiety. Relaxed Lizard’s pitch shifted falsetto represents a maximalist take on the Bee Gees. A funk-laden bass riff acts as counterpoint to the aching longing the track’s helium-infused vocals. The pair crafts a sonic profile seemingly embracing everything ridiculous about pop music’s past.
Vangelis’ score for Ridley Scott’s 1982 film adaption of Blade Runner is an overused signpost in experimental electronic music, but third track i.v. sits in perfect comparison. That is if the auteur director’s used-future aesthetic incorporated sleazier elements. Washes of synth pads create a perverse futurism. i.v. falls somewhere between science fiction soundtrack and the sultrier score of an adult film of the same era.
A Goood Sign is the perfect synthesis of vapourwave and soft rock. Synthetic textures create the lavishly camp sense of overproduction. Born atop of an infectiously downtempo groove, the track wholly embraces the underpinning absurdism of the project. Soft Hair’s material pushes towards more than retro cannibalism, yet there’s something ambrosial within these bygone elements of pop plasticism.
Lying Has to Stop subverts the immodest chasteness of pop lyricism. Lines like “I like to watch you run/But I’ll never touch your bum/Oh babe do you see the light of day?” shatter the tongue in cheek allusions with more direct lyrics. Within the permissive pop landscape of 2016, it’s begging the question of whether music can still possess the capacity to shock.
Replete with synthetic textures, yearning, and downtempo neo-funk strollers, Soft Hair cuts a pure pop balance of melancholy and fun. There’s undeniably an edge of artifice to Soft Hair’s absurdist sound. Soft Hair revels in its own absurdity, but it’s an enjoyment which isn’t at the listener’s expense. Even at its cheesiest, the album retains a seductive lure of sonic fantasia.
Soft Hair’s self-titled debut is out today.