THE SOFT MOON, Exister, LP

The Soft Moon’s fifth studio album, Exister, opens with the chilly synths of “Sad Song,” whose cavernous arrangement is supplemented halfway through by Vasquez’s calmly melodic singing. The track reaches a crescendo with an increasingly treble-laden wall of sound, as the singer’s lyrics paint an appropriately bleak picture: “I feel sick everyday/Inside the sulfur/Burn my soul away.” On the next track, this pensive ambience is replaced with the glitched-out electronics of “Answers,” culminating in a pummeling industrial conclusion and the foreboding mantra “I can’t live this way.”

The standout “Become the Lies” is a haunting tune propelled by a pounding kick drum, rubbery bass guitar, and a high-pitched arpeggio. Lyrically, the song navigates a strained mother-son relationship and the wounds it left behind. Vasquez is exceedingly blunt (“You make me contemplate if I should live or be dead”) while also longing for a long-lost innocence (“Let me be a child ‘til the day I die”). “Unforgiven,” which evokes industrial pioneers Throbbing Gristle’s feverish jam “Discipline,” grapples with similar subject matter; the track features Alli Logout of New Orleans punk band Special Interest, who ferociously belts out lyrics like “Discipline a lonely word/Discipline an insufferable stench/Discipline it’s desire for change!”

It isn’t just anguish that permeates Exister, though, as there are moments of more straightforward aggression as well. The blaring sirens that introduce the instrumental “Stupid Child” morph into shrill synth leads, backed by careening lo-fi noise punk. Given the album’s central themes, the song’s title doubles as a self-deprecating reflection on both youthful rebellion and Vasquez’s own self-loathing as a child.

Although Vasquez’s vocals reach a new level of assuredness on Exister, some of the album’s best moments come from its instrumental cuts. “The Pit” is a menacing, darkwave-tinged techno stomper whose jittery EBM drum pattern and spectral vocal samples escalate into blown-out noise, while the hazy title track bleeds through with waves of staticky noise, shimmering synth chimes, and loudly cracking drums before it abruptly cuts off, ending Exister on an emotionally ambiguous note.

$21.99

In stock

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