Soft Riot returns with dance manifesto ‘When Push Comes To Shove’

Soft Riot press photo
Photo by Will WIlson

‘When Push Comes To Shove’ is the seventh studio album by synth-punker Soft Riot, the stylized musical alter-ego of Glasgow-based Canadian artist JJD (formerly of Radio Berlin, A Luna Red, PR1M35, etc.). The LP is set for release on November 11, 2019. Resonating with references from all corners of synthpop’s origin (DAF, Fad Gadget and John Foxx to name a few), Soft Riot’s latest release nonetheless manages to retain its own individual voice, melding and reinterpreting its antecedents with a personal twist and an impressive demonstration of synth-craft and programming. You can take a listen to / buy the album via Bandcamp.

On the heels of 2018’s ‘The Outsider in the Mirrors,’ the eight tracks on ‘When Push Comes To Shove’ represent a change in themes and an evolution in production and sound. The forthcoming single and album opener Taking The Edge Off sets out the Soft Riot manifesto, a propulsive future-synth tale of forging ever-forwards in an increasingly noisy world. It’s No Laughing Matter is a hedonistic yet propulsive dance-floor slammer — shades of minimal synth and metallic Belgian new beat condense inside one closer Fate’s Got A Bone To Pick With You and the dizzying italo-matic muscle workout Don’t Get Yourself Bent Out Of Shape is the ultimate self-help smack down.

The tracks were all composed in an extended hiatus from live performance between November 2018 and January 2019; a deliberate move on the part of JJD in order to foster a more focused creative atmosphere and allow for the writing process to have a more intuitive flow. This also allowed for a deeper exploration of sound design of his equipment, with this release utilizing a range of different synths, something that reflects in the depth and richness of the new album’s sounds.

This change in JJD’s approach also impacts the thematics of his writing. As JJD says himself “I feel real life over this decade has gotten a bit stranger than fiction” — speculative preoccupations of isolation and paranoia have taken on a more personal dimension in his lyrics. There’s tales of alien visitors who fall to the trappings and joys of humanity while on a mission (By The Skin Of Your Teeth) to topics less cosmic and more close to home, such as the uplifting emotions one feels within a gathering of friends with the third track, The Lost Weekend. The outcome has been a sideways step into more new wave pop aesthetics, and a looser sound (underpinned by the warmth of the production).

This, overall, makes the album groove into a more dance-floor orientated full sound, thawing some of the cold-wave angularity ‘The Outsider In The Mirrors’.

Soft Riot has previously released six studio albums, including a wide range of remixes for other artists including Lebanon Hanover, Keluar, Celebration and Attrition. He is also regularly touring the European underground synth/wave/post-punk circuit and sometimes beyond.