Sunday, 5 May 2013

Soft Hearted Scientists - False Lights

Fifth album from Cardiff's psych-pop social commentators.

Fans of Soft Hearted Scientists have had a great year so far. Not only has Fruits De Mer Records released a vinyl-only greatest hits set (sort of) called Whatever Happened To The Soft Hearted Scientists, there's also a brand new album, False Lights, out this month on the band's own Hip Replacement label.

Picking up nicely where previous album Wandermoon left off, False Lights sees the band hone their unique mix of gentle breezy psychedelia, music hall whimsy and oblique social commentary. Songwriter Nathan Hall's lyrics poke fun at modern mores and are at times funny, occasionally beguiling, but always memorable. His deadpan delivery doesn't mask the fact that he actually writes some rather ace and catchy tunes.

“Seeing” comes across as George Formby takes a trip, all wide-eyed wonderment and weird lyrical juxtapositions. This 21st century music hall sound is further explored on “Turn The Tables” where IKEA comes in for some stick before the song's sing-a-long jaunty ending. “False Lights” is like Syd Barrett fronting Half Man Half Biscuit (what a band that would have been!) with its descending guitar lines and pithy lyrics.

The band are equally at home with a more textured, abstract sound, proving that behind the jocular satire there's some seriously good musicianship. Check out “Golgatha” with it's Pompei-era Floyd tempo and gently lysergic dreaminess and you'll see what I mean.

Elsewhere they cast a disarming sideways glance at house prices, the popular press, multinational corporations and much much more. There's even room for a nursery rhyme mixed with pokes at our lovely political leaders (“Seaside Sid And The Giant Squid”). Proof that in the right hands pop and politics do go together, and can still put a smile on your face.