Portland, Oregon’s SOFT KILL ripped through 2016 with their first release on Profound Lore Records, Choke, the follow up to 2015’s Heresy, which became the band’s most acclaimed LP to date and saw the band on a constant touring cycle in support of it through North America and Europe as demand for the band was on a constant upswing. SOFT KILL returned with the triumphant follow-up full-length Savior, released by Profound Lore on May 11, 2018, bringing their unique blend of gloom, laced with pop charm and flawless songwriting that transcends the post-punk genre.
The writing for Savior was sparked while returning from tour, frontman Tobias Grave’s wife began to bleed out in the van, at eight months pregnant they were in the middle of nowhere on the side of the road far from a medical facility. The band raced through the night landing at the emergency room of UC Davis Trauma Center in Sacramento where surgery was performed to save both the mother and unborn child. Although the surgery went well, baby Dominick’s lung collapsed on his second day of life causing him to flat line. Grave was forced to standby and watch as the doctors and nurses struggled to keep his newborn child alive with blood transfusions, breathing, and feeding tubes. As days turned into weeks, stranded far from home, standing vigil, he purchased a guitar, borrowed a bass from a friend, and began to write songs that eventually would become the core of Savior. Grave wrote songs about losing his son, his battle with drug addiction, the many tragedies that came along with that life, and the empty space suspended between mourning and celebration, life and death.
With Savior, recorded/mixed in Kingsize Sudios in Los Angeles and produced by Benjamin Greenberg (Uniform, The Men, Algiers) SOFT KILL have matured into a powerhouse, effortlessly combining genres, always with Grave’s powerful, raw emotional storytelling where we see a person come to grips with their own reflection as seen in the eyes of their dying son. From the pop perfection of "Trying Not to Die" to the swelling and crushing guitars on "Hard Candy" to the unrelenting dirge of "Bunny Room", Savior is a creative tour de force. Drawing from a diverse musical palette, Savior is influenced by early U2, Gun Club, The Replacements, and a requiem to Tom Petty.
Dead Kids, R.I.P. City, SOFT KILL's long-awaited follow-up to 2018’s Savior, finally arrived in November 2020. A story odyssey of sorts told in ten parts, ten songs - each track essentially a character - Dead Kids..., produced by David Trumfio (Built To Spill, Wilco, OK Go) and mastered by the legendary Howie Weinberg (The Cure, Smashing Pumpkins, Nirvana), explores, through a beguiling mix of personal memory, allegory, and narrative structures by turns both poetic and stinging, a long and complicated relationship with a dark version of Portland OR. Its songs tell of the fractured and fragile legacies of those lost during the city’s last couple of decades as it moves from soggy backwater to unheard-of growth and tech-fueled transformation.
Two years in the making, desperate, redemptive, its contrast of light and shadow favoring the latter, Dead Kids, R.I.P. City is like no other album in the genre, a kind of doom pop Drugstore Cowboy featuring the brave and abandoned, the tender and the afflicted, all teetering in memory on the edge of the city. For all the sadness and pain of addiction haunting it, however, the record, by its very existence, proves that hope doesn’t necessarily win but that, even if at great cost, it can. It’s what makes Dead Kids, R.I.P. City so powerful beyond just the scope of its dark luminous sound and indelible melodies, and is one of the many reasons you’ll carry it with you.