10 Jun 2023

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Soft Plastics - Album Review: Saturn Return

19 Apr 2023 // A review by Lou Clement

Are Soft Plastics contemporary myth makers? Yes. Are the genres of shoegaze and dream pop portals into the zeitgeist? Yes, yes they are.

This month saw the release of Saturn Return, Soft Plastics debut album. It delivers themes of tenderness and the delicate, and difficult decisions, of loving and losing. Soft Plastics are Sophie Scott-Maunder, Jonathan Shirley and Laura Robinson.

An unsettling angst is a good starting point for inspiration for influences of shoegaze and dream pop. And this seems to ring true for this album of dark-edged gems. The art of Soft Plastics music lives in the clever lyrics and vibrating bass. The melting pot of influences burns bright. I like the cover art too. It reminds me of a dusty old copy of Robert Graves book I used to own.

It feels right to begin at the end. The album rises into a crescendo of a five-plus minute finisher, with the title track Saturn Return. It’s a long third act: there is a lot to resolve for this band. I’ll leave you to research the meaning of Saturn Return. But to me the title reflects that we all work in cycles. This album is a chance for the artists to present their own experiences. I’ll be honest, I wanted a couple more tracks. I wanted the experimental ones, the interludes and the unfinished. I wanted more.

After a cinematic, goosebump-inducing first track, Easy to Forget ups the mood with its Pixie-esque baselines. The vocals are clear, pretty and hurting. The lyrics use snippets of idioms or clichés that embody complex emotional experiences. The composition does the work as well as the gorgeous voice of Scott-Maunder.

In moments, there’s retort from the hurt, the ‘I don’t care’, - see Loozer. Soft Plastics deliver their meaning in atmospheric arrangements. The distortion and effects mean at times I thought I heard a cello or a double bass. They evoke a mood that’s sort of lonely, heart aching, epic and yet staunchly loud and expressive. It really is all those things; you just have to listen.

Rating: ( 5 / 5 )

About Soft Plastics

Sophie Scott-Maunder (she/her), Jonathan Shirley (he/him), and Laura Robinson (she/her) make up Soft Plastics, an indie rock trio based in Te Whanganui-a-Tara, Aotearoa (Wellington, NZ).

Described as garage pop with a nostalgic twist, Soft Plastics expertly blend melody and groove with moments of noise and power. Taking influence from 2010's indie guitar bands and alternative bands of recent years, the group are accomplished at converting fuzzy riffs and shoegazey reverb into devotional (and occasionally noisy) indie pop hooks.

Named by Radio New Zealand as 'Ones to Watch in 2022' , Soft Plastics have earned an excellent reputation with their unique brand of indie rock.

Visit the muzic.net.nz Profile for Soft Plastics


Saturn Return
Year: 2023
Type: Album

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