Hailing from Norwich, England, post-hardcore trio Other Half have put out their second album Soft Action (Big Scary Monsters), consolidating their presence in the modern punk scene. It is a record that keeps the adrenaline pumping throughout its fourteen-track run-through and brings solid production to an otherwise disorderly DIY kind of tone. Despite its title, the album is anything but soft.
The style of Soft Action borders between hardcore punk and melodic hardcore, wielding the fast-paced erratic energy of the former and the zesty dynamic riffs of the latter. While the lead vocals of frontman Cal lean more towards the strainy punk side, many of the hooks are underlined by a subtle backing chant by bassist Soapy that deepens the momentum with a sardonic quality. The rollicking ‘Slab Thick’ holds a strong example of this with its driving chorus that propels the song forward between each impending verse.
Even the more “laid-back” passages are made to keep listeners on their toes with their key purpose as to build anticipation. You can always feel that tension raising, leaving you anxious to hear it blow up into the grand climax. This is most notable in the looming palm mutes of ‘In My Wires’ and ‘Every Future’ as well as the astral effects of ‘Planetary Feeling’. On the other hand, ‘All Bets Are Off’ is a ticking time bomb all the way through its nearly three-minute run. Its unwavering dissonance and slowed time feel will keep you on the edge of your seat if you’re not prepared for it.
The minute-long ‘Doom Logo’ adds a bit of short but sweet contrast using nothing but a single guitar and vocals. While it maintains the suspenseful nature of Other Half’s sound, it has a tamer execution that is refreshing to the ear after the turbulence of the eight preceding tracks. Its smooth transition into ‘Who’s Got Guts’ which keeps the ball rolling without stopping for a breath. With each song it becomes more apparent how in touch with each other the members are sonically and emotionally – many of the instrumentals sound like the exact technique and delivery of the vocals were translated into guitar lines and drum beats.
The opening and closing tracks of the record present opposite ends of the band’s creative spectrum in a way that provides memorable first and last impressions. Opener ‘Like A Dog’ is a quick forty-second frenzy that throws you straight into their hardcore rabbithole to keep you engaged from the start. Closer ‘If You Write The Way You Talk’ is a drawn out slow-burner where Soapy’s sneering spoken word takes center stage with constant instrumental build-ups and decreases for a compelling finish.
Soft Action is the perfect record to spin for some cathartic yelling whether you’re feeling sad, angry, or just want to party. With this release, Other Half have proven themselves as a force to be reckoned with in the post-hardcore community.
Buy the album here:
8 / 10