Never Die – Soft Set (reviewed by Dave Franklin)

Maybe it’s some sort of self-fulfilling prophecy. A band who, consciously or otherwise , find themselves going down a certain creative route eventually find themselves working with someone who was, in part at least, one of the architects of just such a sound in the first place. Perhaps it is just co-incidence. Perhaps million to one shots work out nine times out of ten. I don’t know, the universe and the Gods of Music work in mysterious ways.

But whatever forces drew Mark Gardener and Soft Set together, the results are awesome, as the world at large will find out when Love and Dancing comes out on 4th September. But in the meantime, as a sonic calling card to pave the way for the release of that e.p, Never Die ticks all of the right boxes. It captures the lush, dreamier side of shoegaze, bathing in soft edged sonics and shimmering washes of guitar, sounding at once nostalgic for a certain time and a place, perhaps the M4 corridor in the early nineties, but also the perfect pick me up for such troubled times.

With Mark at the studio helm and their own love of a dream-state indie sound always in evidence, it comes as no surprise that bands such as Ride and MBV are musical touchstones but in Never Die’s soft sonic swirls and almost hallucinogenic reverie you can also hear the echoes of the likes of Mercury Rev and the sweet pop-infusions of Alvvays.

If the point of a first release is to make you salivate, perhaps figuratively rather than literally,  over the thoughts of the later, fuller release, then never has a single earned its stripes so effortlessly.

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