If ‘Ark 1’ and ‘Re-Animations’ were consolidations of Erol Alkan and Richard Norris’ psychedelic predilection, ‘The Soft Bounce’ is the sound of the duo hitting their eclectic stride outright: no reworks, re-edits or reanimations. It might have taken longer than expected (they were working on original demos back in 2009) but their proper debut explores sultry French cinema, psych and 60s sunshine pop with a confidence few others can rival.
Where opener ‘Delicious Light’ builds with patient, insistent intent, ‘Creation’ evokes the bright, effortless refinement of a vintage Stella Artois spot; where title track ‘The Soft Bounce’ creates the dreamy haze School of Seven Bells made a career out of, ‘Iron Age’ unleashes a swarm of waspish guitar with one angry stamp of a pedal before sliding into the snake-hipped funk of Beck at his best.
There is also a depth and variety that plays through in the thick, pensive soundscape of ‘Tomorrow Forever’, the psychedelia-riddled positivity of ‘Finally First’ and the pitch-perfect harmonies of ‘Triumph’. Part cosmic wormhole, part expansive passion project, Alkan and Norris barely put a foot wrong here, with the M83-lite of ‘Diagram Girl’ the only real blot. Regardless, their cultured consideration makes ‘The Soft Bounce’ a brilliant distillation of everything Beyond the Wizards Sleeve stand for: a trip in every sense of the word.
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