by Rish Hanco
Softswitch—consisting of Suzy Keller on drums, Rob Hill on guitar, and Ryan McPherson on bass and vocals—takes you to the centre of a universe at once recognizable and surreal with their new self-titled EP. Mundane activity is set against a background of questionable perceptions of self and reality. “Memoriam,” the first track on the album, displays this uncertainty with lines like “Was she even real?” and “It was like a faded page somewhere in our cursive memory.”
Bleeding out of this uneasiness is an urgency that permeates the album, reflected in the lyrics of the second track, “Jupiter Machine:” “We awoke to the orange light, streaming through the blinds, persistent, persistent, almost as if, almost as if it wanted an answer.” We are transported to a place shaken by apocalypse but peopled with those who cling to familiar habits: “Dazed, we reached for our phones.”
This theme comes up again in the album’s closing track, “Best At Art:” “It’s the end of the world, and you wouldn’t want to miss a thing like that, just don’t forget to feed your cat.” The song gestures cynically at a return to that which is commonplace, despite internal and external crises. This is especially clear in lines like “Don’t worry, we’ll get you through it, just get out your wallet, there’s always a price to pay” and “Get home, get high, get scrolling.”
Each song is pierced through with a sensation of dread, fed by hazy guitar riffs that drone out like sirens, crashing, bellowing drums, and bass lines that weave between them like dissonant heartbeats. These layers of sound seem like a warning—a great and terrible anxiety looms. At times, it seems as though the music reaches a peak and threatens to crash and topple before ultimately returning to harmony and regaining its grip on reality: “So we laughed, and moved on” (“Memoriam”).
This album is a trip that will leave you exhilarated.