The Soft Close-Ups are a London based duo who are new to me and I wasn’t quite sure what to expect as I wandered off to walk the dogs with my headphones plugged in as always. My dog walking neighbours must think I am a real miserable sod as I wander along plugged in and absorbed in whatever I happen to be listening to at the time.
The degree of absorption increases when I am listening to something new and City Air is an easy album to become absorbed in. If like me you are someone who needs to put a label on things then I would probably place this somewhere on the folk tinged synth-pop spectrum.
It is a very easy album to listen to and clocking in at 30 minutes long it is one of those albums where you press the start button and suddenly find that you have been taken through the 10 tracks in a bit of a rush and you are pressing play again. It captures your attention sucking you in and then all too soon it is over. I believe someone famous once said “always leave you audience wanting more,” but I might have just made that up.
David Shah has one of those lovely smooth gentle voices with a great range and I sometimes thought I could have been listening to Brian Ferry, at other times I was reminded of David Byrne. The songs are observational and witty, mellow and at times introspective, the sort of thing that may be best played late at night with the lights down low when you are trying to impress a potential lover. It has that romantic feel, engendered primarily by Shah’s vocal.
That isn’t to say that the lyrics are romantic, at times they are pretty gloomy and ironic, for example in “Your Likely Years” Shah has the twenty-something contemplating their mortality because they only have 50 summers more! A gloomy prospect delivered in a cheerful manner in the sort of way that say’s “Make the most of living because you are dead for a very long time”.
The title track draws ironic comparisons by reflecting on the British obsession to move out of the city into the countryside and the realisation that there is nothing there but fresh air. It perhaps juxtaposes a love for city life with a desire for a more utopian lifestyle that may not exist.
“Awkward Scenes” feels dark, almost menacing as it reflects on days that drag on and get harder. It feels almost like a voyueristic glimpse into a troubled relationship.
I found City Air to be smooth, mellow, refreshing and absorbing. It is both refreshing and enjoyable. Check it out.