SoftLightes Say No To Being Cool — Say Yes To Being Happy

The Australian-based Modular label has had an untouchable track record since its 1998 inception, signing the likes of Wolfmother, Cut Copy, the Presets and of course, the Avalanches. San Diego’s SoftLightes are the label’s next big discovery, and continue to keep the label’s diverse, cool rep afloat. Formed from the ruins of synth pop outfit the Incredible Moses Leroy, SoftLightes aren’t afraid to take chances on their atrociously titled debut. Led by singer/songwriter Ron Fountenberry, the overall target for the band is to achieve a snug environment of soft pop and then throw everything but the kitchen sink at it to see what sticks. For a lot of the record it works: the jangle of "Heart Made of Sound” gives them a slight a radio-friendly boost and "A Town Named Blue” moves to a flattering country hustle. But there are some missteps on Say No To Being Cool that hinder satisfaction. Fountenberry is a deplorable wordsmith, for one. Besides the album’s title, he ruins great synth-led melodies with lyrics and titles like "Black Skinheads in White Pants” and "The Microwave Song,” which could be a breakout single if it didn’t have such a cringe-worthy chorus: "I am just a microwave.” Furthermore, the original version of "Girlkillsbear” is just plain dull and it would have been wise to instead use Lo-Fi-Fnk’s pulsating remix for some poise. SoftLightes could use a producer, or even better, an editor for their next go ’round, and maybe then they’ll live up to the heavy expectations. (Modular/Universal)