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Wednesday, September 29, 2004

The Chills -- Soft Bomb

The Chills' Soft Bomb might or might not be a full concept album, but it's certainly a unified piece. Several songs ("The Male Monster from the Id," "Soft Bomb," and "There Is No Harm in Trying") have direct responses later ("Sanctuary," "Soft Bomb II" and "Soft Bomb III", and "There Is No Point in Trying"). As a whole, the disc is concerned with working out this concept of a soft bomb. The violence is sometimes subtle, as with coercion in the music business, and sometimes not, as in the case of domestic violence. The album increases in gloominess before Martin Phillips sings, "For the deep black sea -- longs for me / It thinks that's where I belong." The ending's uncertain: is there a failure? a continued resistance? The album closes with the repetition of the phrase "soft bomb," but it's unclear if it's a dying wish, a rallying cry, or something else.

While the album thrives on thematic (narrative?) uncertainty, it excels on direct rock. The Chills have a sound similar to that of most of their Flying Nun compatriots, but they do it very well. There's a bit of California-psychedlica here. Pacific Rim Rock, perhaps?

All in all: classic.

Highlights: "The Male Monster from the Id," "Sanctuary," and "So Long"

PS - According to their website, the Chills are about to release a new EP.


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