Soft Pyramids - Electric Scenes EP
Record Label: self-released
Release Date: March 10, 2011
Soft Pyramids are a diamond in the rough among Boston's music scene. Eschewing the four-on-the-floor Allston hipster dance craze, loud colors and 80s-styled synthesizers, the band relishes in the sound of Television, with guitars being the focal instruments. They claim to have bonded over Television's guitar interplay and Brian Eno's Here Come the Warm Jets, and it shows. Particularly the former, even if they don't have quite the same energy. Where Television was occasionally quirky and cryptic, Soft Pyramids are frequently melancholy and relatively straightforward here on their Electric Scenes EP.
They will earn comparisons to the Strokes too, who also drew from Television. It's easy to see why, with the sounds of Fender guitars and light distortion. But there are also the hooks: "Empty Canister" is reminiscent of the Strokes' "The Modern Age," but without a touch of copycat inspiration. Their songs recall their heroes, but are full of life and originality, so much so that they don't even feel like they'd be part of Television's lost tracks. Soft Pyramids sound confident in their brand of smart rock, performing with an earnestness that doesn't make them sound hokey. It's the earnestness of forthright honesty, and you can hear it in their subtle and studied guitar arrangements and vocalist Dwight Hutchenson's bare voice towards the end of "The Way You're Going." Indeed, it's this melancholia that makes this music their own. While not every song bears this mood, the presence of it throughout the EP makes it wholly compelling, where many followers of the Strokes would borrow their hipster party moods and disaffected apathy, Soft Pyramids instead focus on their understated melancholia.
Vocalist Dwight Hutchenson thankfully doesn't aim his voice to sound like Julian Casablancas or Tom Verlaine. He sounds natural and very much in his own element. And if you really want to make comparisons, he bears some resemblance to the Walkmen's Hamilton Leithauser, another band they show some signs of influence from (basically, you can tell they love New York bands). Hutchenson's a bit of a crooner, and he has the command in his voice to make him quite believable. It's refreshing because it doesn't sound like he's overshooting it, nor does he sing with any irony in his voice. He sings with an earnestness not like cheeky contemporary folk artists, but with an earnestness found in solid, well crafted unpretentious rock music.
Soft Pyramids aren't pandering to any designated niche market. Sure, they could cast their net wide enough to captivate enough of an audience, and they surely will in due time. Unlike their Allston hipster neighbors, Soft Pyramids don't have a built-in audience per se. Yes they fit under the blanket term "indie rock," but their hooks and lyrics aren't always so straightforward, and nor do they fall prey to fleeting trendiness. Their subtlety is their strength. It is a defiant foil to Passion Pit's synthesizers, looped beats and overused falsetto vocals. Soft Pyramids don't have to be in your face to get their point across. Their understatement is the message, and they succeed remarkably on this little EP.
Expect big things from this fine group in the future. An LP will no doubt garner Soft Pyramids great success.