THE SOFT BOYS – Underwater Moonlight (1980)

Review by: A.A
Album assigned by: Jaime Vargas Sánchez

The Soft Boys’ Underwater Moonlight is a jangly post-punk record inspired in equal parts by The Byrds-style folk rock and whimsical psychedelia. Before listening to this album, I had the most passing familiarity with Robyn Hitchcock’s solo work, whom I consider, succinctly put, a character.
The album, considered today an influence on the neo-psychedelia movement, has poppish stylings but the punk attitude is certainly not lost. The lyrics are drenched in surreal, sardonic imagery and mostly a biting take on the concept of love from the point of view of misfits who can’t get any. Like on “Insanely Jealous”, where Hitchcock sings:
The night is black and thick
I wander past your window
And I catch a cigarette thrown from a jewel encrusted hand
It comes on pretty quick
Exactly like a crocodile
In search of a mirage across the undulating sand
But I’m insanely jealous of you
Yeah, I’m insanely jealous of you
I don’t know why the people want to meet
When all they know is that they’ll breed like rabbits in the end
Cause ordinary people on the street
They never know
But if they can’t be rabbits they’ll be friends
Other tracks of interest are the ebullient “Positive Vibrations” (which throws in sitars for an interesting effect), the garage-rocky “Old Pervert”, and the title track “Underwater Moonlight” with a jamming coda that in parts reminds me of The Cure’s “Killing An Arab”.
It is a relatively short album and, for the verdict, one I do not find awe-inspiringly meritorious, but certainly interesting, and maybe one to put occasionally on when I’m reading The Chants of Maldoror and need an extra dose of caustic surrealism.
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Author: tomymostalas

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