Sea Pinks: Soft Days | Virgin Media
Sea Pinks: Soft Days

Sea Pinks: Soft Daysby Matthew Horton | Rating: ★★★★

08/01/2016Music

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Belfast three-piece release a second album of lovely – and occasionally abrasive – dream-pop that deserves to be noticed

According to Neil Brogan of Belfast trio Sea Pinks, "A soft day is that very fine almost mist-like drizzle that totally soaks you through in five minutes. It's a common phenomenon in Ireland, Belfast in particular. I just really like that expression and the kind of atmosphere it evokes." He's conjured that feeling perfectly.

Soft Days is an album that settles over you like that mist, a dream-pop beauty to wallow in, get lost in for half an hour or so. It's the band's second set and finds them pouring their influences into something that sounds familiar but bracingly new at the same time.

Inspirations are clear – Cocteau Twins, Felt, all that 4AD shimmer; but also the power-pop of vintage tunesmiths Big Star – yet Soft Days is strong enough to stand up on its own. Opener (I Don't Feel Like) Giving In starts with a drone but breaks into a hurtling, spiky 1980s Postcard Records jangle – it could almost be The Smiths having a go at surf-pop but has a thrilling, raspy guitar buzz that belongs to itself alone.

The bitter Cold Reading ("I can tell you've had your fun") is jaunty despite itself, a sour La's-y song slipping here and there into wordless ecstasy, while Trend When You're Dead takes a bit of Lloyd Cole & The Commotions or – for a more recent touchstone – Real Estate then thrashes and bashes into a rubbery guitar solo. There are obvious ancestors, sure, but Sea Pinks have enough talent to grab this ground for themselves, at least until the next wave comes along.

They're petulant on Yr Horoscope, sad and confused on Depth Of Field and twinkly and forgiving on the lovely I Won't Let Go, an unexpected highlight. Chances are Sea Pinks won't be troubling the charts with this old-fashioned but crisp second effort, but we all need our undiscovered treasures so you might as well make this yours.