Music Reviews

The Soft Moon Deeper

(Captured Tracks) Rating - 7/10

The idea of music as therapy has existed since the time of Aristotle, but few have internalized this as much as Luis Vasquez — the post-punk progenitor of The Soft Moon. Taking notes from Lennon and Reznor, Vasquez has dissected his own psychological torment over three albums with mostly the same results. Anything concerning the resolve of one’s own psyche is bound to come up short without outside help. But that was never the point of The Soft Moon; Vasquez seems more hellbent than ever on prodding his wounds as opposed to letting them heal. Contributors would only obstruct him from turning inward and investigating his own suffering.

But suffering is a singular emotion — one of many that run through human perception. Deeper, Vasquez’s latest release, is one of the most refined post-punk albums in recent memory. It is also one of the most histrionically self-serious. With tragic declarations that “the end is on [his] mind,” and that he “feels so shallow inside,” there is little doubt about how Vasquez feels about the whole “living” thing. Yet, there is little reason given for why.

Still, Deeper plunges headlong into its nightmarish source material with feverish petulance, insisting on the authenticity of its own sorrow. Vasquez’s goth stylings build a strong case for the depth of Vasquez’s depression, much more so than his nondescript mantras. The driving, chorus-fueled bass lines and synth flourishes are ripped right out of the playbook of Breathless and The Sisters of Mercy, but integrated with a hard industrial influence and rapid-fire electronic manipulation. The mixture coalesces into a strangely compelling listen — a fluid rumination on unsettling agony that can only be observed from a distance with stark objectivity.

The mood here is somewhere in between Unknown Pleasures and Script From The Bridge, but Vasquez is far more surgical than either. The groove on Feel is clinical and precise, almost uncanny in its detachment from human oversight. Elsewhere, the percussion surges forward mechanically, often with pitch-shifted cymbals and hi-hats dancing across the perimeter of the tracks. Not surprisingly, everything sounds as if it were recorded in the gelid depths of a cavernous dungeon, the closer Being perhaps the greatest example of this. The whispered confession “I can’t see my face, I don’t know who I am,” bears a resemblance to a recorded cassette you might find in an abandoned insane asylum. It is one of the few moments on Deeper where Vasquez is able to transcend his edgy lyricism and deliver a truly disturbing portrait of lost identity.

It is hard to say where The Soft Moon ship will sail from here. Vasquez largely refines his torrential darkness to an indomitable sheen with this release, even if the resources he draws upon are almost at the brink of exhaustion. But despite the confessional format of the album, there isn’t any insight into Vasquez’s personal life — nothing that you couldn’t glean off of a deliberate snapshot or a caustic blog entry. Deeper is still what he wants the world to see; a cold patchwork to cloak tender insides. Maybe it's time Vasquez let himself feel something other than forlorn misery, even if isn’t as “cool.” Still, for those who smoke cigarettes in their bedroom and dance with themselves until three in the morning, Deeper will hold you over until next winter.