PILL - Soft Hell LP

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Soft Hell, PILL's second full-length album, is a raucous, splintering dispatch from New York City, animated by the madcap ingenuity of a foursome finding a palpable sense of joy and play in expressions of caustic, black humor. Like the contradiction of the album title, which references our acceptance of everyday miseries, it’s a slew of dichotomies, a frenzied cutup. It’s bleeding saxophone and lustrous feedback sounding somehow pastoral, and winking hooks subtly infused with venom. Steeped in Brooklyn DIY haunts such as Silent Barn and Palisades, Pill debuted in 2015 with an eponymous cassette on Dull Tools, the label run by friends Chris Pickering (Future Punx) and Andrew Savage (Parquet Courts), whose Fisher-Price toy guitars (named “Sheila 1” and “Sheila 2”) appear on early recordings. Next came a 7” for Mexican Summer, featuring songs commissioned for a friend’s art film (the music plays when the gates of hell open), and the acclaimed Convenience LP, also for Mexican Summer. The first time the four members of Pill got together in the same room, they exchanged sounds before words; JAFFE walked in playing saxophone, prompting CAMPOLO to respond on guitar. Soft Hell, like its predecessor Convenience, carries forward this free-associative ensemble feel, with the players finding room for intuitive subtleties and melodic interplay even in the most skeletally spare compositions. They play post-punk, maybe no wave, mostly insofar as the terms are far-reaching creative passports.