Soft Riot – The Outsider in the Mirrors
The Outsider in the Mirrors negates current trends despite looking to nostalgia for inspiration, and in turn sounds refreshingly strange and exciting
It's no surprise that Soft Riot, the musical alter-ego of JJD, has associations with the city of Sheffield. Having lived there for a number of years (as well as London, and now Glasgow) his music pertains to the more gloomy, post-industrial connotations of synthwave, the likes of early Human League and Cabaret Voltaire elicited. On first inspection, The Outsider in the Mirrors could be accused of parodying those bands; to some Soft Riot's synth inclinations would sound outdated to the point of mere derision, but dig a little deeper and this LP has a lot more to give.
The album uses an amalgamation of stylistic elements Soft Riot has pursued in the past – including sharp-edged post-punk and new wave – but the underlying theme is early electronic music's futuristic bend. JJD's unique synth interplay is dark and pulsing, and lyrics explore issues of isolation, urban alienation and social paranoia. Here, JJD creates his own world – an eerie, claustrophobic dystopia that's both terrifying and curiously alluring.
It's not without warmth and colour, however. While the title track deals in anxious rigidity, The Saddest Music in the World has an underlying softness that blends beautifully with its melodic impulses. The Outsider in the Mirrors negates current trends despite looking to nostalgia for inspiration, and in turn sounds refreshingly strange and exciting. It's the perfect soundtrack for late-night escapism.
Listen to: The Saddest Music in the World, Now World Romancer, The Outsider in the Mirrors