22 Apr 2013

Soft Hearted Scientists "False Lights" Review

Reviewed by Nathan Ford

The Welsh alchemysts of sound are back with a new album - always a cause for excitement, and as always that expectation is fully rewarded with an album that may well be their most well rounded and memorable yet.
After an unlikely, moody, hauntological introduction the psychedelic pop gears are engaged thoroughly with "Seeing"s playful bounce, which has moments that suggest George Formby disappearing down the rabbit hole.
"False Lights" sees the Soft Hearted Scientists exploiting their pop smarts to the max and pound for pound, I'd say it's their most concise, hook laden effort so far - which is saying something. Reining in their more proggish tendencies may not on paper, sound like a particularly good idea for a band who's reputation has been partly built on diversity, but the decision (conscious or not) to trim the excess back has resulted in an album with an instant appeal that previous albums - great as they have been - have had to work a little harder at.
I don't imagine for a moment that these lads have any interest in stardom, but "False Lights" certainly feels like a breakthrough album. History has proven of course that quality is no guarantee of success, but it's hard to imagine anyone not getting carried away by the irresistibly catchy "Song From The River" or the innocent, childlike charm of the sinister nursery rhyme "Seaside Sid & The Giant Squid", which makes being eaten by a giant squid sound like it's been given an unnecessarily bad rap.
The Scientist's ability to switch from whimsical good humor to the beautifully dark melancholy of the flawless "Golgotha" at the drop of a hat is their biggest drawcard though, which makes approaching any of their albums a thrilling prospect, and "False Lights" has more twists and turns than most bands cram into an entire career.
Certainly one of the most tuneful albums I've heard this year. Highly recommended.

Pre-order "False Lights" on CD here or digitally here.


  1. The Soft Hearted Scientists charm and charisma has not worn out, nor thinned here boys and girls. They in turn deliver yet another mischievous magical musical tome to add to their catalog and unto our want lists. Ladies and gentlemen..... False Lights.
    Some moments I'm singing and/or humming along with a song, then I'm steadfastly engulfed by the tapestry entwined with mine grey matter an sent off to an astral plane or out of body experience. Yes, heady and wonderful, much like a fine brew, such as Grand River Brewery's "1913 Traditional Ale". Simple and delicious with no additives, just wholesome goodness. All killer, and no filler!

  2. Simply gorgeous!
    Lots of quotes from some of the masters of smart pop like Kevin Ayers ('Seeing'), Jeff Lyne ('Night of The Hunter'), Syd Barrett ('False Lights'), Mummer-era XTC ('Seaside Sid and the Giant Squids', 'Trees in the Wind', 'Monsters of the Id') and Super Furry Animals (everywhere but specially in 'Golgotha', 'Night of The Hunter' and 'Panorama').
    Nice suggestion, Active Listener, thanks!