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Velvet Crush: Soft Sounds

Album: Soft Sounds
Label: Action Musik

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Velvet Crush's new Soft Sounds probably incorporates too much feedback to qualify as lite rock, but the title should be taken seriously. For their group's fifth proper album, venerable power-pop torchbearers Paul Chastain and Ric Menck seem to have spent a lot of time listening to early-'70s AM radio, sifting out the cheese and crafting an album around the naked emotion beneath. The result is power-pop that de-emphasizes the power but loses none of the pop. Recording again with kindred spirit Matthew Sweet, the band steps back from the energy of 1999's Free Expression, finding a delicate vulnerability in the process. With their wistful sentiments, jangling guitars, and Paul Chastain's aching vocals, "Forever, For Now," "Staying Found," and others carry on a long tradition of downbeat pop, music for the letdown after the rhapsody. It's fitting, then, for the album to include a cover of "Save Me A Place," a Lindsay Buckingham-penned song from Fleetwood Mac's classic Tusk, an album whose mood, if not sound, serves as a major influence here. For a disc two years in the making, Soft Sounds clocks in at a surprisingly concise 34 minutes, but Velvet Crush knows the value of not overstaying its welcome. It summons an atmosphere and winds down before that atmosphere can dissipate, stringing together one small pleasure after another in an album whose liteness never hides its heft.