A strange and hypnotic second album, with help from Hookworms' MJ
The fear that reaching adulthood might bring about the end of all your youthful dreams is part of the human condition. Dan Reeves is racing through his twenties, putting as many records out – with his solo project Soft Walls, as a member of Brighton droners Cold Pumas and as head of the Faux Discx label – as he can while age is on his side. Soft Walls’ new album addresses this worry through panicked, motoring post-punk. There’s no time to waste.
Cold Pumas came belting out of Brighton six years ago, with a brace of stinging, metallic singles and an expansive album in 2012’s ‘Persistent Malaise’. That year also brought Soft Walls’ self-titled debut, a diverse, lo-fi gem that absorbed influences from elemental krautrock, ragged psychedelic folk and the clonking beats of early house.
For this second Soft Walls set, MJ from Hookworms (a former Faux Discx act) lends a hand on the mix, helping to make ‘No Time’ a more cohesive affair than its predecessor. Apart from a scattering of drifting interludes, the album mixes ancient drum machines with waves of needling guitar and hypnotic organ. Vocals are swathed in hiss and echo and the phrases that do break through create a sense of claustrophobic desperation. “What’s the point of everything?” Reeves sighs on stoned surf opener ‘Won’t Remember My Name’. “I’ve got no time”, reiterates the cavernous title track before breaking into a shipwrecked Beach Boys howl.
While the mood sometimes skirts with depression, as on the downbeat garage swamp of ‘The Big Nod’, Reeves manages to lifts his spirits by hitting a single-chord groove and just playing his way out of it. This love of repetition runs through all his music, in both Soft Walls and Cold Pumas, and he carries it off most successfully here on propulsive, clear-minded highlights ‘Never Come Back Again’ and ‘All The Same’.
‘No Time’ is a fine and strange album. Meanwhile, Reeves’ Faux Discx schedule marches on, and there’s a new Cold Pumas album on its way too. No time like the present to catch up.