By Amanda Hu
Though recycling trends is not a new idea, most usually stick to one and go with it, at least as far as albums are concerned. Long-time Feist collaborator Gonzales doesn’t seem to believe in this method, offering up a haphazard mix of genres and ’70s and ’80s pseudo-throwback tracks on his latest album, Soft Power.
After kicking things off with the sickly-sweet “Working Together”–the title says it all–“Slow Down” features some of the most cliched adult-contemporary shtick in the book: opening up with some laid-back piano chords, congo accents and sequenced background “ahhs” and leading into the dreaded sax solos and predictable key changes. He makes a musical return to the disco floors in “Let’s Ride,” focusing on an upbeat drum groove, orchestral strings, synth and a tempo-block reminiscent of “the Hustle.” The result is a cute, but overwrought, attempt at cheeky nostalgia, much like the album as a whole.
Soft Power’s saving grace is one of the bonus tracks. “Fortunately, Unfortunately” chronicles a quirky story through the clever use of an almost point-counterpoint highlight of its events. The track features Gonzales’ rapping skills with some understated piano pings, which is a refreshing change from the rest of the offering’s overdone elements.
Overall, Soft Power sounds quite slapped-together and doesn’t present itself as a cohesive album. Taken individually, some of the tracks are cute enough to get by, but as a whole, they make for a collection of mismatched singles.