The Soldier Thread, Shapes

The Soldier Thread, Shapes

The Soldier Thread may hail from Austin, but the music they make is far, far chillier than any warm Hill Country night could ever be. Rather, they’re distant and detached, like stars in a Northern sky. The lush, atmospheric indie-rock this quintet makes is beautiful but remote, with lyrics that drip with bitter venom all smothered in the fey, Eisley-esque vocals of singer Patricia Lynn; the droning guitars, the sweeping strings, the beautiful boy/girl harmonies (courtesy of Lynn and guitarist/singer Justin McHugh), the delicate keys, it’s all a facade of prettiness covering a tamped-down ball of betrayal and shame. By its end, Shapes has the feel of a backhanded insult, its beauty just an empty shell around a core of something very dark.

But hey, as shells go, it’s pretty impressive. The music itself draws from similarly atmospheric folks like Broken Social Scene, The Secret Stars, or Denali, throws in some driving, Stills-esque rock guitars, and dabbles in electronica, retro electro-pop, and psych-rock at various points (Dido-esque “The Silver,” seriously Killers-ish “Criminals,” and closer “Rock ‘N Roll,” respectively). The similarities to Eisley extend beyond Lynn’s vocals, as well, in that the majority of the songs have an ethereal, drifting quality to them but remain rooted in rock, tied to the ground by the band’s understated rhythm section.

It’s all very dramatic and utterly deliberate-sounding, but surprisingly, it doesn’t really suffer for it; rather, it adds to the lonely, distant, resigned feel of things. The high points are scattered throughout, from the trickling, almost Edge-like guitar line in “Make Believe” to the old-school emo tinge of “Northeastern” to the glorious ball of strings-and-distortion near the end of “In the Sky.” Oddly enough, one of the most intriguing tracks on Shapes, “Seven,” totally throws the band’s musical motif out the window — it’s a brief, vocal-less interlude with far-away, echoing samples and playful keys, and it’s got a coolly cinematic thing going on that’s absent anywhere else on the album.

This isn’t a breakup album, not really — in the case of The Soldier Thread, everything’s already broken, and it sounds like it has been for a long time. This is a can’t-move-on album, instead, and perfect for those among us who find perverse enjoyment in wallowing in the end of something.

[The Soldier Thread is playing 5/2/09 at Dean's Credit Clothing, along with Alpha Rev.]
(Sea Change Records -- 512 E. 11th Street, Suite 207, Austin, TX. 78701; http://www.seachangerecords.us/; The Soldier Thread -- http://www.myspace.com/thesoldierthread)
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Review by . Review posted Saturday, May 2nd, 2009. Filed under Reviews.

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3 Responses to “The Soldier Thread, Shapes

  1. SPACE CITY ROCK » Yr. Weekend, Pt. 2: Yppah + The Literary Greats + Paris Falls + The Soldier Thread + Beat Battle + More on April 9th, 2011 at 12:27 pm

    […] sure about Castle Lights (although I’ve heard good things) or Saints of Valory, but I heard/reviewed Austin band The Soldier Thread a year or two ago and was fairly impressed with their […]

  2. SPACE CITY ROCK » Yr. Weekend, Pt. 1: the last place you look + Cymbals Eat Guitars (Rev’d!) + Buxton + The Soldier Thread + More on September 30th, 2011 at 5:51 pm

    […] and Austin’s The Soldier Thread, whose awesomely melancholy, atmospheric release Shapes I reviewed & dug quite a bit a few years […]

  3. SPACE CITY ROCK » Yr. Weekend, Pt. 3: Adelaine + The Soldier Thread + Open The Taps + Blues Museum Fundraiser + More on September 25th, 2012 at 10:10 pm

    […] a bonus, Austin band The Soldier Thread, whose Shapes album I reviewed a couple of years ago and was very impressed by. They play a gorgeous, Eisley-esque type of atmospheric rock, and […]

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