Reviews:: The SoftLightes Say No To Being Cool, Say Yes To Being Happy

2007 is shaping up to be a great year in music. People are already freaking out over the new Bloc Party, Arcade Fire, Ted Leo and about 20 more releases. One that is high on the radar for me, but will probably go relatively unnoticed is the Softlightes new record – Say No To Being Cool, Say Yes To Being Happy.

The Softlightes are a band that developed in support of front man Ray Fountenberry – a.k.a. The Incredible Moses Leroy. His 2003 release Become the Soft.Lightes was the soundtrack to my first summer in Vancouver, so hearing he had formed a full time band and signed to Modular records was fantastical news.

The release – due out in January – is a bit more diverse than his solo records. Sure it still focuses the happy electro pop with sugary sweet song titles (like If the World Had Cookies) that fits perfectly into that Ben Gibbard/Postal Service typecast, but Ray is trying a lot more new styles on this record. The heavier guitars and crashing drums on The Robots In My Room Were Playing Arena Rock, the 80’s new wave guitar anthem Black Skinheads in White Pants and the piano/acoustic guitar driven structured pop of Heart Made of Sound and a Town Named Blue are welcome additions to Ray’s songwriting style.

Despite the diversity, the band is still most comfortable creating laptop indie pop tracks that simply make you smile and nod along. From the opening notes of The Ballad of Theodore and June, you can see that Ray is still creating amazing music (with his familiar double tracked vocals) and adding a band simply fills out his sounds. Songs like Untitled Duet #3 and Girlkillsbears could have been taken from the Moses Leroy sessions.

The lyrics are still somewhat simple (I hate guns, but you love Rocky. You’re the Ken and I’m the Barbie) but I think that is part of the appeal. Like the title of the album says, Ray isn’t focused on what other people think. He’s more concerned with creating music that makes him happy, and that sincerity makes this album what it is. More organic than his older electropop, the Softlightes are on the verge of something great. Hopefully people see that, and understand Ray isn’t simply hopping onto a style that is hot right now. He’s been finding his sound for years, and each time out it gets that much better.

MP3:: The Ballad of Theodore and June
Heart Made of Sound - if you don't love this video, something's wrong with you

Web page :: myspace :: Modular records :: more tracks

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