I misread the tags written on the Bandcamp page for The Soft Collapse to be a single line description: "sweet Brooklyn bedroom pop" . The band themselves - Ryan Montgomery and Dave Teufel – prefer "mellow cello rock". And both give you a pretty accurate indication of what to expect on their debut album self-released on 1 January this year (a form of New Year’s Resolution?).
“Little Songs” is a collection of baroque folk-pop love songs delivered with a graceful simplicity and a patient eye for biographical detail. Another tag suggests ‘anti-folk’ but The Soft Collapse are a world away from the caustic screeching of fellow New Yorkers The Moldy Peaches. Instead there is a gentle grandeur in the sedate dance between voice, acoustic guitar and cello (remarkably all recorded live). Montgomery’s vocals fall somewhere between the confessionals of Elliott Smith (but not as pained or doomed) and the rich introspective baritone of The National’s Matt Berninger (but not as gravelly). Actually Matt Berninger’s contribution to the chamber classicism of the last Clogs album is another good pointer of what to expect here – just a touch more restrained and stripped down.
“Little Songs” is a quiet and intense listen that can be a bit samey and somnambulant over the 12 tracks if you don’t pay it full attention to pick out its subtle inflections and changes of pace. The jaunty ode to NY street wandering on ‘City Ramblin’’ or the wry optimism of ‘All I Can Hope To Create’ contrast with the sombre intensity of ‘Heart of Hearts’ or ‘Honey on Toast’. Elsewhere ‘Black on Black on Black on Black’ tilts towards country-noir whilst conforming to the rule that any song referencing Johnny Cash can only be good.
The Soft Collapse have recently added drummer Rob Galgano and a second vocalist, Jane Cramer to their line-up and are already working on album number two. Will be interesting to see where they take their 'mellow cello rock' next. “Little Songs” is available on iTunes, CD Baby or on a name-your-price basis on Bandcamp.