New Music, Reviews

Soft Kill Conjure Love and Loss on Evocative New ‘Choke’ LP

Portland post-punk band wears its heavy heart – and its influences – on its sleeve

Soft Kill band

Photo by Sam Gehrke

Portland post-punk band Soft Kill have written an autumnal soundtrack of memory and lost love with their new LP Choke. The album evokes a wistful, romantic mood so thoroughly as to envelop the listener.

The band is helmed by Tobias V.H., formerly of Blessure Grave. Soft Kill’s sound frequently reminds listeners of The Cure and other influential post-punk acts like The Chameleons (whose lead vocalist Mark Burgess guests on Choke). Choke is due November 4th via Profound Lore Records.

Choke‘s second song, ‘Frankie,’ is the album’s strongest mood-conjurer, capable of transporting the listener to any sufficiently chilly memory of longing. The song evokes the memory of lost love rather than the experience of it; it’s the sonic equivalent of a forlorn lump in the throat. The repetitive, trance-inducing rhythms of ‘Frankie’ dance on the border between cohesive song and immersive vibe.

‘On the Inside’ finds Soft Kill collaborating with Chameleons founder Mark Burgess. In the band’s press release, Tobias said, “having one of our main influences take part in the album was pretty life-changing.” Soft Kill wears its influences proudly on its sleeve here; however, ‘On the Inside’ borders on indulgence as the band wallows in its shimmering guitars for the second half of the song.

‘I’m Beside You’ is another standout; the buoyant track allows a few rays of sunshine to part the clouds, adding complexity to the record’s sonic palette. Choke‘s penultimate track (also its title track) leans heavily on the Cure influence but becomes a bit of a drag during its repetitive six minutes.

Soft Kill’s Choke is draped with such dense layers of atmosphere that its best songs become transportive experiences. Some tracks lose focus due to repetition and excess, but the album wins on mood, style and evocation of memory.

Soft Kill Choke album cover design by Danish collage artist øjeRum:

soft kill choke review

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