The Soft Pack’s saving grace is their ability to play it cool. San Diego has that effect on people. 2010’s self-titled debut showcased a knack for airtight three minutes gems loaded up with cynicism and power chord guts. It stayed even-tempered even in the face of seeming urgency. Strapped, their new self-produced record, picks up exactly where they left off. Snide lyrics and that basement band-feel haunt these twelve tracks, but time off gave the boys a chance for experimentation and the results are pleasing.
Strapped finds The Soft Pack (formerly The Muslims) getting their Vampire Weekend on, minus the Brooks Brothers cufflinks. The smarts are there and the tongue finds the cheek with tunes like “Tallboy” and “Bobby Brown” but time also brought instrumentation to the mix that was absent last go-round. There are some horns and keys sprinkled throughout the record, stretching the bands legs a bit beyond the surf punk edge of their debut.
“Tallboy” paints the jagged canvas of a man and the can. It’s the classic tale of the tape. The champion is the twenty-two ounces of cold bliss and the challenger is the man who can’t get it together without a little help from the corner store clerk. If you can’t relate, I applaud you. It’s true story telling, chock full of metaphor a man like me can’t ignore. “Chinatown” steers the crew into familiar waters with a machine gun rhythm section and a Strokes-ish chorus that pleads…”you will find me in the dark.” Strapped finds The Soft Pack exactly where they should be on record two. Their room is on fire and it’s time to tell the world all about it.