The Soft Pack
By Al Kaufman
“Garage rock” is a misleading moniker. While it is supposed to refer to a group of talentless guy with a bunch of passion jamming in their garage, the fact of the matter is that bands like The Strokes and, in this case, The Soft Pack, know a thing or two about making good music. They just also know that lots of people like to hear fast and furious guitar harmonies and simple melodies that latch on like burrs.
The Soft Pack, a four-piece from San Diego, was originally known as The Muslims before too much negative publicity forced a name change. They re-named themselves after the title of their first CD. It this only makes sense. The Soft Pack aren’t about causing controversy. They are about writing three-minute pop nuggets that blend the best of the passion of The Replacements, the melodic guitars of early REM, the punk of The Stooges, and the surf guitar of The Cramps.
“C’mon,” in which the one word title makes up the entire chorus, sets the frenetic pace, and the band does not let up until “Tides of Time,” which, along with “Mexico,” offer the only two tracks that slow things down even remotely.
That’s not to say everything else sounds the same. While there is a certain continuity to the CD, the band is able to mix things up nicely. “Pull Out,” another song in which the title is the entire chorus, offers up a swirling punk mix that recalls Iggy Pop and the Stooges at their peak, in which the guitar is more prominent than the vocals. That song is immediately followed by “More or Less,” which recalls a more melodic, high energy, REM.
Clocking in at around 30 minutes, the CD finishes ends far too early. But given the addictive nature of the many songs, it simply grants the listener the chance to hit “repeat” that many more times.