Not as Bad as It Seems

by Soft Walls

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about

Soft Walls' 3rd album; 'Not as Bad as It Seems' was a long time coming. Rabid enthusiasm, ground down by the slog of getting through a week. Falling out of love with what you felt defined you. Losing more than you thought you could lose. It's hard to keep going when you don't know why you're doing it. Yet still, Dan Reeves, the sole proprietor of Soft Walls (also guitarist in Cold Pumas and former overseer of the Faux Discx label) kept going. Just, very slowly. The race is over, but the tortoise is still determined to get over the line. What else is there to do?

'Not as Bad...' is part self-critique, and part self-help. Our author throws his shortcomings in a pit, climbs down, and tries to figure a way out of this particular hole. The result is Soft Walls' most direct, concise, and (dare to whisper it) honest record to date. 9 tracks of self-reflective sauce, reduced down to a rich ragu.

It's the closest Reeves has got to his sonic utopia. Years of tinkering with pieces of cheap equipment, that feed his beloved 8-track cassette tape machine, finally paying off. Blown out and turned up to its master's satisfaction. The guitars are cranked. The drum machine is cranked. The tambourine is cranked. Everything is cranked. It’s all in the red, crackling and alive. Compositionally there's a little less 'vibe' and a little more action than last time around, 2014’s well-embraced ‘No Time’. Songs are chopped short, guitar lines either blaze or stick to the note, nothing is there that shouldn’t be. The drum machine sound is real nice. 'Not as Bad as it Seems' is exactly one walk to work in duration. Enough time to get lost in thought, but short and sweet enough that you wish it wasn’t over just yet.

The record rips through multiple looks in it’s short run-time. From FM motorik guitar rock, via high gain proto-punk, to looped ragas and lo-fidelity, wistful ballads. It’s all bathed in the record’s warm tape glow, resulting in a satisfyingly cohesive journey.

credits

released June 21, 2019

Written, performed, recorded and mixed by Dan Reeves.
Mastered by Mark Jasper.
Cover photo by Lindsay Corstorphine.

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Track Name: Misperception
Do you ever get the feeling
That you don’t know what you’re doing
You disappear into nothing

Swear that I lived it
It was just a dream
Felt kind of foolish
Upset and naive
I couldn’t see beyond this haze of grief
Unable to see in front of me
Slipping back into the sea

Oh! You are not what you thought
You never go to anything anymore
But is that really who you think you are
Just pay it no mind

Misperception
It had me lying down on the floor
But it doesn’t really matter now though
It doesn’t really matter at all

Getting back up from a sudden fall
It’s 6am and I’m wide awake and calm
“I think I’ve lived through it all!”

I’m trying to be more positive
Track Name: Every Target Can Afford to Wait
Stare at the barren page
Set up the empty slate
It is the notion that I can’t create

Feeling confused
What do I do
Had my hands in my pockets for so long
not sure if they’ll move

It should be easy for me
It should be easy for you
Is it okay for me to do nothing
What do I do

I just don’t feel it anymore
Procrastination
You really got me

It is the golden age
Recorded time-waste
Every target can afford to wait
Forever to-do
“I’ll see you soon”
I am so busy doing nothing I can barely move

Fire up the pit!
Throw all the work in it
If what I do is nothing
Then what do I do

I just don’t feel it anymore
Procrastination
You really got me
Track Name: As Thin As a Thread
Counting up
All the things you can stack up
It is calm
It’s calm

What if it isn’t how you imagined

Something unsaid
Rolled between finger and thumb
As thin as a thread
Track Name: Ex-King
Take one last bow
The king without a crown
Silhouetted, tail between my legs
I turn and click my heels

Cartwheel away
What does it mean to you
Did it really mean anything
The tapes have been erased

Delete my history
The tapes have been erased
Track Name: No (Personal) Connection
Disconnect from the pressure
Try to be unseen
Have so much time on your hands
Do you feel relieved

Or do you not know how to (ful)fil
Compulsive needs
Enduring a minute of thought
Feels like an hour to me

No personal connection
Avoiding situations
Track Name: Inward Island
Nostalgia symphonies
A lack of empathy
Defending nothing
Forever looking in

Isolation
Taking it all
Track Name: Coffee
I was walking alone
And I got myself a coffee
Headed down to the water
I was happy

You say I think my cup’s half empty
And I know this can be tiresome
I am really going to try
To be better

Not as bad as it seems
When you get some distance from it
Not a length I’m able to swim
I’ll take a step too far
and then I’m in

Staring back at your dog
You can really get to know it
Open up your heart
And throw your arms around it

I know I sink in it too easily
But you’ll talk me back out of it
I have named that good boy
And I feel much better

Not as bad as it seems
When you get some distance from it
Not a length I’m able to swim
I’ll take a step too far
and then I’m in

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