From their long awaited follow up to 2018’s ‘Savior,’ Portland’s Soft Kill returns with their new single, Roses All Around, which is lifted from their upcoming album ‘Dead Kids, R.I.P. City’. It’s dark yet luminous in every sense, from its driving percussive beats, harmonic grooves and melodies, while also creating an opportunity to openly discuss its sociopolitical message that is especially prominent now as Portland has become the epicenter of unrest these past few months. Watch the video clip for Roses All Around via YouTube below.
Soft Kill had been growing with pretty much every record – but a deep maturation, achieving a level of emotional intensity that, even for a band known for exactly that, was nothing short of breathtaking and inarguably a high water mark. A story odyssey of sorts told in ten parts, ten songs – each track essentially a character – ‘Dead Kids,’ produced by David Trumfio (Built To Spill, Wilco) and mastered by the legendary Howie Weinberg (The Cure, Smashing Pumpkins, Nirvana), explores, through a beguiling mix of personal memory, allegory, and narrative structures by turns both poetic and stinging, a long and complicated relationship with a dark version of Portland OR. It’s songs that tell of the fractured and fragile legacies of those lost during the city’s last couple decades as it moves from soggy backwater to unheard of growth and tech-fueled transformation.
From the frantic cascade of guitar that carries Roses All Around relentlessly toward the track’s vision of rain-filled gutters overflowing with dashed dreams, to the chiming sorrow and yearning of the steadily pounding Inverness where we find a strung out young man sitting in a wheelchair somewhere in downtown Portland accepting what fate has brought him, to Crimey’s darkly joyous dance groove and the one-two swan-song punch of apocalyptic dreamscape Oil Burner and the mournful, elegiac I Needed the Pain, you’ll find the honesty so hard fought for and won through the crucible of ‘Savior’ paying further dividends on ‘Dead Kids, R.I.P. City’. Featuring guest vocals by Choir Boy’s Adam Klopp on Matty Rue and Tamaryn on Floodgate.
Whether it’s Hooper Detox choked with cigarette smoke, the grim and grimy downtown doorways, abandoned industrial buildings on N. Interstate, the confinement cells at Inverness Jail or a midnight apartment building rooftop in Northwest, the scenes that backdrop these characters’ stories offer a scuffed amber portrait of a Portland that is no more. It’s the individuals themselves, however, some dead none forgotten, that turn this tour through Tobias’s past into a fever dream memoriam. Though inescapably nostalgic, it’s the type nostalgia that burns with immediacy, like a post-punk John Steinbeck crossed with Robert Smith crossed with Gus Van Sant.
Two years in the making, desperate, redemptive, its contrast of light and shadow favoring the latter, ‘Dead Kids, R.I.P. City’ is like no other album in the genre, a kind of doom pop Drugstore Cowboy featuring the brave and abandoned, the tender and the afflicted, all teetering in memory on the edge of the city. For all the sadness and pain of addiction haunting it, however, the record, by its very existence, proves that hope doesn’t necessarily win but that, even if at great cost, it can. It’s what makes ‘Dead Kids, R.I.P. City’ so powerful beyond just the scope of its dark luminous sound and indelible melodies, and is one of the many reasons you’ll carry it with you.
‘Dead Kids, R.I.P. City’ The Board Game is trifold 33″ x 11″ high quality matte lamination on chipboard with litho wrapped finishing, a high quality game board and comes with Red with Black Splatter double LP vinyl, limited to 100, screen printed box, game instructions and game pieces. Welcome to R.I.P. City, the board game set on the MAX train we take a journey through the urban wilderness. Avoid the fare, and climb on board by selecting your token, players can choose to play as a syringe, a trash can, a brick or a gun. Avoid crack clouds, find money on the sidewalk, get chased by dogs, get caught up with bad company, and whatever you do stay out of the gutter, as you travel from Downtown to the Avenue of the Roses. Roll the dice to traverse the incredible gloom filled illustrated world created by local Portland artist David Rugh. Highly playable and an amazing companion piece to the world of the album, ‘Dead Kids, R.I.P City‘ is the perfect activity for these lonely nights, the goal is only to survive.
‘Dead Kids, R.I.P. City‘ is out November 20th via Cercle Social Records/Cobraside. You can grab it here.