Follow Us on Twitter

Rathborne - Soft (Review)

Rathborne, Soft

Review by Jack Foley

IndieLondon Rating: 3.5 out of 5

IT’S easy to hear the influence of Strokes man Albert Hammond Jr on Rathborne’s Soft album… but that’s no bad thing.

Hammond Jr co-produced the record and invests it with the same kind of zip and infection energy as The Strokes in their prime, while also liberally sprinkling nods to everyone from The Ramones to Dylan, Pavement and Lou Reed.

The result is an album steeped in classic garage rock elements, not to mention just plain old classic rock at times, and one that gets better with each listen.

Opening with title track Soft, the album immediately hooks you in with a scuzzy, garage rock riff that feels utterly underground but pretty darn cool. Rathborne’s vocals have a raw, ragged quality, too, that lends the love-lorn lyrics an extra edge.

But if that start is gritty, there’s an easier melodicism on What More, a toe-tapper par excellence that drops a genuinely radio friendly chorus. You’ll be singing “what more could the devil want from me?” in no time at all, while Rathborne’s vocals have a softer quality that’s equally appealing.

The singer says of the LP himself: “It’s a record that charts the course of a relationship. I felt like love had imploded. There was no place for me to be anymore. That’s a strange thing to feel when you’re twenty three. Like everything had gotten out of control. I ran out of money. I ran out of time.”

However, ultimately, “the feeling of the record is incredible energy,” continues Rathborne. “Youthfulness, lust – the feeling of breaking out of yourself, unchaining yourself, forcing yourself to be free.”

This is born out in tracks such as Eno, which rattles along with frenzied hooks and engaging harmonies; Last Forgiven, a clear album highlight that drops some of the best guitar work and another cracking chorus; the Strokes-ian Wanna Be You, and the blues-soaked rock of Deal, which if anything has a Jagger-Richards kind of vibe (and emerges as another firm favourite).

Evidence of a quieter, more intimate side, is brief… but no less compelling with Little Moment offering a welcome moment of pause, albeit wrapped in a starker note of melancholy. But it shows Rathborne can mix things up too.

Zane Lowe is among this new artist’s growing fanclub and it’s easy to hear why. Rathborne could soon become the new name on quite a few people’s lips. Soft is a smart, snappy, rollicking good record.

Download picks: Soft, What More, Last Forgiven, Deal

Watch the video for Last Forgiven

Track listing:

  1. Soft
  2. What More
  3. I’m So Tired
  4. Eno
  5. Low!
  6. Little Moment
  7. Last Forgiven
  8. Wanna Be You
  9. Deal
  10. Why
  11. So Long NYC