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Soft Action is an explosive return from Other Half

"Soft Action"

Release date: 02 December 2022
Other Half Soft Action Art
02 December 2022, 00:00 Written by Adam Wright

Soft Action is an explosive dive into the Other Half's chaotic observations of the world around them that refutes its mellow title.

Continuing the progression of their post-hardcore sound with a refined approach, it's no less raucous than its predecessor, but does take the Norfolk band into a more distilled habitat.

Coming two years after their volatile debut Big Twenty, the album’s more carefully crafted sound looks further afield for its inspiration. While thrashing drums and blaring vocals often create the familiar war-zone atmosphere of previous releases ("Grisly Visions”; “In My Wires”; “Like A Dog”), the record also exhibits sounds inspired by post-punk both new and old.

Where its predecessor showcases frayed and sprawling edges, Soft Action opts for a tighter approach to production. The more refined instrumentation of tracks like “Just A Holiday” and “Jollies With The Boys” creates an organised chaos that pushes the sound forward.

Ragged guitar sounds akin to Just Mustard and Pixies feature on several tracks (“All Bets Are Off”; “Every Future”; “Ugly Reunion”), often providing them with an encompassing atmosphere, while elements of Shame and Converge are exhibited on the record’s cleaner moments (“Doom Logo”; “Ugly Reunion”; “Planetary Feeling”). Such sounds do well in distilling those on the LP’s predecessor.

Other Half also shows progression in the album’s lyrical themes which, as they have previously, show frontman, Cal Hudson, expressing his view on the modern world through characterisation. Such portrayals are used to express Hudson’s view on UK politics, be it his opposition to gentrification (“Doom Logo”), disenchantment with parliament (“Losing The Whip”), or his outrage with the myth of meritocracy (“Who’s Got Guts”). The storytelling, though imaginative, does subtract from the album’s overall coherency.

The band undoubtedly benefit from bassist Sophie Porter’s ideas, which push the group to interesting places. Her writing is exemplified on tracks like "If You Write The Way You Talk” and “Just a Holiday” which frame her own personal experiences of working-class guilt and mental health through the addition of a female character. Porter’s presence is also heard on tracks like “Slab Think” and “Every Future”, where her instrumental and vocal additions expand the trio’s sound to promising levels.

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