Soft Lashes: Hypersensuality (Wild Patterns, 2017)
Soft Lashes is the bliss-pop solo project of Michael Tenzer (Lazy Legs, Savage Sister, and Eyes Behind the Veil). Hypersensuality is Tenzer’s first full-length under this moniker having released an EP in 2015. Within the framework of Soft Lashes, Tenzer produces bliss pop that is framed by post-punk, chillwave, and synth pop sensibilities. While fresh, the album is definitely a nostalgia train for anyone who digs the dreamier side of 80’s synth pop. What also strikes me as nostalgic is the bass tones used on the album, as Tenzer channels some tones used by Simon Gallup in The Cure. That said, there are also these wonderful dreamy moments that are lush, ethereal, and evocative. Tenzer takes the amalgamation of genres and utilizes them to produce beautifully written songs.
“Lancer” kicks of this hyper-sensual album off with a bit of innuendo in the title. The programmed drums come up in the speakers from under undulating synth. Early 80’s synth-pop is evoked here as more synth layers begin to come into the mix, sparkling and creating spacy moods. The vocals are deeply recessed in the mix as synths play various melodies over them. It’s a great mood setter for the rest of the album. “Touch Me” has this infectious, soothing guitar line, slightly reverbed electronic drums, and a groovy bass-line. The vocals are awash in reverb, becoming so ethereal that they become a part of the overall soundscape. Tenzer definitely gets into some Tycho type moments here but with a definite DIY/lo-fi feel.
“Contact” begins with subtle, brightly vibrating synths with a melody punctuating their rising and falling. It’s a brief, sci-fi feeling track that could have come right out of film. “Heart 2 Heart” has a synth pattern that goes in and out of tune and this wonderfully pulsating bass line. The beginning is muffed and when the volume properly comes up in the speaker the synths lose their warbling feel and get bright. There are recessed vocals in this track but the melody really plays against the detuning keyboard in other places in the piece. It makes for a very cool effect given that the vocals are not falling out of tune like the synth they are laid over. “Bold Lips” has a delay-heavy keyboard, bright and inviting, shimmering aurally. Synths, bass, and percussion play a slow tempo piece that lead into reverbed vocals and a bit of a stripped down, almost sensual vibe. Tenzer’s choices of synth sounds, while very familiar, are brilliantly used, especially when he utilizes a guitar as a foil. His phrasing choices and melodic sensibilities really shine on Hypersensuality.
“Murmur” is another brief interlude type track with an ambient, spacy feel and guitar playing deep in the thickness of the wall of sound. The guitars glisten amid the whirling, slightly fuzzy keys, creating a hopeful tone. “Blouse” begins with that bass tone Tenzer uses on this album, which I love, and it leads into dreamy, shoegaze guitars. The drums are forceful, but not aggressive. The vocals seem doubled up here and even more ghostlike. There is an otherworldly sense of euphoria in this track with radiantly toned guitars and glistening synths. “Pillow Talk”, the finale to this glorious blisspop/chillwave album, begins with bass and a singular percussion tone. This leads into full synths that recall “Lancer” but in a fuller, more complete feel. Blissed out guitar plays in the spaces between the bass and synth. The louder walls of sound peel back as Tenzer sings another ethereal vocal.
Hypersensuality is a blissed out chillwave dream full of potent sexiness. It’s clear that Tenzer, through his experience in many of his projects, has mastered a certain lo-fi, DIY feel that translates well into engaging records. From start to finish, Hybersensuality not only has this nostalgic feel in its post-punk elements but is a blisspop journey worth taking. I highly recommend purchasing a digital copy.
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