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Music Reviews

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Fat Possum
Patrik Tanner
Dark One Records

Rating: 6/10 ?

August 11, 2005
Album titles are funny things. There are times when the title is a band's attempt to be memorable, regardless of whether the title relates at all to the music itself. The title can just mean something to the band, having to do with the recording process, or their relationship with each other, or the latest movie they were obsessing over. Then again, there are times when the album title tells you all you need to know about what you're about to hear.

Since this is called Soft, I think you see my implications. There is nothing at all hard about this Patrik Tanner record - quite the opposite, in fact, especially with song titles like "The Kindest Person I Ever Knew" and "Hello Tomorrow!" That's not to mention the pictures of the Swedish Tanner in a bear costume found in the packaging. The only way you could call this kind of easy-going pop hard is if the Latin Kings took over Mr. Roger's Neighborhood, and the bangers decided they were going to only listen to music influenced by 70s-era Bowie and Elton John.

So just by looking at the album title, you know exactly what you're dealing with. If this specific kind of guitar-driven singer-songwriter pop is your thing, you'll find some very agreeable songs. However, after you get through all fifteen similar-sounding tracks you may not remember exactly which ones you liked, but you'll at least remember that you liked some of them since they're all equally pleasant.

For most, there's a threshold for how much nice-and-sweetness to be tolerated in music. The scale of feelings these songs inspire ranges from 1, "Hey, this is nice; I think I'm even smiling" to 10, "This song makes me want to perform unspeakable acts of violence on Grandmas and innocent squirrels." Most of the songs on Soft rank a 3 or 4 on this scale, but there are a few, like "Little Guy" - a mawkish ditty with lyrics like "Little guy who never got the chance/to fly with other birds and make romance" - that start drifting into the 7 or 8 range.

To its credit, Soft isn't trying to be anything it's not - the album isn't called Ready To Die or Thug Life or anything of that sort. This is what it is, so there shouldn't be any expectations of edge or toughness. If you can take a little blatant softness in your music, then Soft will leave you as pleased as you want to be.

Reviewed by Dan Filowitz
Dan Filowitz is Toronto-born, New-Jersey-raised, Indiana-University-educated, and Chicago-residing. In addition to his Lost At Sea contributions, Dan is a senior staff writer for political humor site TalkStation.com and the president of ChicagoImprovAnarchy (The CIA) a Chicago-based improv theatre company. We are not mentioning the 9-5 corporate job. Apparently, Dan does not sleep much. Dan Filowitz is the perfect dinner party guest - fun, witty, intelligent, with wide-ranging interests, ecclectic tastes and a winning smile. Just make sure you have coffee available.

See other reviews by Dan Filowitz



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