Luis Vasquez, aka The Soft Moon, has historically kept his own voice to a minimum on his previous albums. But on his 2018 effort, Criminal, we finally hear him vocalizing and it’s nothing to be taken lightly.

We march into the album at full speed with opener “Burn,” a militaristic rhythm section that doesn’t pussyfoot around instantly takes control. Vasquez growls over his driving first track that he can’t control himself. Because this is the first time we’re really hearing clear vocals on a The Soft Moon record, it doesn’t come as a surprise that Vasquez’s lyrics are fragmented and shouted at us. Why can’t he control himself? What burns? Why can’t he trust himself? Who would he be if he could be somebody else? Questions better left unanswered.

The second track “Choke” takes heavy influence from Nine Inch Nails circa Pretty Hate Machine. It’s no wonder that Vasquez’s music has taken a turn for the heavier now that he calls our beloved Berlin his home. The swirling vocals mixed with the industrial, mechanical hammering of the drum machine could have easily soundtracked the scene in “The Matrix” when Neo follows the white rabbit and meets Trinity for the first time. Are the lyrics “Take your time, crush me right” from the perspective of a human or from the point of view of a drug? Or both? It’s hard to say in Berlin.

The album lulls a bit with “Give Something” but we’re back to being pummeled by the fourth track, “Like a Father.” The album continues with walls of distortion and driving post-punk rhythm sections complete with self-loathing and esoteric lyrics, elements we’ve come to look for from The Soft Moon.

Criminal is out on Schmutz favorite, Sacred Bones and should be acquired for immediate listening pleasure. The Soft Moon has sold out three shows in a row at Urban Spree this weekend, if you haven’t gotten tixxx yet, schade. We hope to see you there though.

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