Five years in the making and two virtuosos –Soft Hair has a promising background to say the least. For those of you who let this one slip under the radar, Soft Hair is the name of the debut and pseudonym for Connan Mockasin and Sam Dust’s joint project. Both musicians carry a reputation. Connan Mockasin is a weirdo, known for his emotional, offbeat, and very colorful music. Sam Dust presents a synth driven, energetic, dance atmosphere. Together, the two have put together one hell of a masterpiece.
Soft Hair is a dysphoric cocktail –two parts general flamboyance, one part disco, one part depression, and finish it off by adding a nice rim of crushed pills –in other words, it’s fantastic. The entirety of the album is really special and unique. Each song seems to present a new theme –inconsistent but cogent. It’s like walking down a rainy street and hearing the thumping of each dance club as you pass. It’s all a little bit different, but there’s a common theme in there.
With a name like, “Soft Hair,” I shouldn’t have to say much to get a very easy point across –this album is creepy and sexy. “Relaxed Lizard,” works in two parts; first with some falsetto-esque high pitches and a poppy backing melody. Then, as the song progresses, it becomes a bit deeper –vocally. Some backing keys form a little solo that adds to the back and forth. It’s a little unsettling and an appropriate way to begin. “Relaxed Lizard” closes out with a bit of a boy-band vocal and fades into, “Jealous Lies.” The second track seems shamelessly influenced by Mr. Mockasin (more on this later). It’s a bit funky with alternating notes and vibrato. A bit of oom-pah rhythm stylized with instrumentals reminiscent of Daft Punk’s ‘Interstella 5555’. Along the way, there’s a constant dramatic vibe –perhaps the descending synth notes.
After the first two tracks bite your ears off with an incredibly intense performance, Soft Hair delivers a brief reprieve. It’s much needed as things only get crazier from here. The majority of the album seems to scream Connan, but make no mistake –this is a duo that works together with a particular synergy. In particular, Sam Dust brings forward an energy that Connan Mockasin desperately needed. The combined vocals mixed with careful instrumentation (driven by synths) is perfectly executed. And not because synths are popular or because it’s the same gimmick we’ve seen a thousand times before or this, that, or the other thing. This is different. Soft Hair feels deeply personal. The album comes across in such a way that it feels like Sam Dust and Connan Mockasin not only put thought into it, but had fun, and took the time and risked the investment to become the architects of this musical world. The duo maintains this sort of dark, poppy, and emotional ambience. The culmination of which really first shows itself in, “Good Sign.”
The fourth track really opens the rest of the album up and does so in such a special way. It begins slow. The vocals, paired with a twinkling, backing synth, may as well be a vaporwave track in the works. The song works with a buildup that would humble post-rock fans. The instrumentals dominate and really just build the full effect. When the vocals come back –they’re competing with more synthesizer. Somehow, this is the first track that feels less Connan and more Soft Hair.
And so we roll into, “Lying Has To Stop,” and although the duo has already kicked it up a notch, they decide to go all out. It takes a full two minutes for the song to really get going. When the husky voices burst through, you’re all warmed up and ready to go. The alternating lines between musicians works particularly well against the simple yet poppy melodies. It’s a cheesy but oh so good tune that will get you grooving.
With full confidence, Soft Hair is a solid album. No other release in recent memory compares. Soft Hair is simply charming, maybe a little seductive. It will make you dance. The variety of good, bad, and dirty romantic songs will just keep you hooked. The album flies by –it’s that fun. As it comes to an unfortunate end, we’re given a peculiar track that echoes upon all that Soft Hair has to offer.
“Alive Without Medicine,” begins like an homage to ‘Rock and Roll Night Club’. The song begins with some goofy, flowy melodies. Breaks through some panting, and then some energy through the singing, which calls out, “Alive without medicine,” and then release. The last two minutes of the song keep the melody but picks up the pace. It’s a solid closer that reflects on everything the album gave us. Odd and fantastic.
Experimenting is good. Soft Hair, the dynamic duo of Sam Dust and Connan Mockasin prove that. Their music is strange, but it’s flirtatious mood and poppy melodies will suck you in. The eccentric vocals keep things familiar –if you’re a fan of either musician, then you’ll find a sense of comfort as you drift through this eerie soundscape. The release is on the cusp of flawless and an absolute must-listen. The weather is getting colder and soon it will be snowing, but Soft Hair is keeping it hot.