The Soft Moon continues to hammer out industrial darkwave misery

“I’m starting to turn into someone else . . . again,” moans Luis Vasquez on “Monster,” from his latest album as the Soft Moon, Exister (Sacred Bones). It’s true that Vasquez, who’d been holed up in Berlin during the pandemic, moved to Joshua Tree to record this effort. But whatever else might’ve changed about him, his signature sound remains in place—a mix of postpunk, darkwave, and industrial, held together by the binding influence of Trent Reznor. Vasquez knows what his listeners want, and he reliably brings the mope and rage and throb. “Monster” is a bleak and lovely midtempo ode to self-alienation and self-recrimination that nods equally to werewolves and mental illness. As the synths swirl, Vasquez’s vocals alternate between numb, distorted dread and soaring regret. 

Similarly, opener “Sad Song” touches on shoegaze and ambient before its slow drone and amped-up crystalline feedback crescendo into the full-bore pop-industrial dance-floor assault of “Answers.” The refrain of that song, “I can’t live this way,” is an effective fist-pounding call to stomp out your frustrations beneath your (very black) boots, but it’s so catchy that goths won’t be the only people headbanging and wailing along. Vasquez is joined by a couple of guests, but they don’t change his sound so much as demonstrate its flexibility. Hip-hop artist Fish Narc ramps up the beats on “Him,” and Special Interest vocalist Alli Logout takes a turn ominously intoning on “Unforgiven,” but Vasquez confidently steers the music back to the same inky well. There may be multiple personalities on Exister, but they’re all agonized.

The Soft Moon Nuovo Testamento open. Wed 12/7, 8 PM, Metro, 3730 N. Clark, $26, $21 in advance, 18+

Wednesday, November 30, 2022 at the Museum of Contemporary Art

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