The Soft Boys “Underwater Moonlight”

Underwater Moonlight

While we’re a little ahead of the era, I’d like to throw in this post-70’s classic from The Soft Boys. Full of great songs, that get to you slowly, and jangly guitars, Underwater Moonlight is their masterpiece 2nd record and (excuse my indulgence) it fucking rocks.

First off, any album that opens with I Wanna Destroy You would make the cut any day. A serious blast from the speakers and dual guitars stabbing all over the place, a great harmony line sings the title, but Robyn Hitchcock says the “You” part with an ‘F off’ sensibility, and thus bridges the gap between The Byrds and punk rock. By Kingdom of Love, we’re in for the ride. It may take a few listens to get used to these tracks, but they will become anthems to you; each track on Underwater Moonlight is a treat. There are Television-like bass and guitar runs, breakdowns and some gnarly licks like in the bluesy I Got The Hots. Lyrically, Underwater Moonlight is extremely weird and surrealist. Take this bit from Got The Hots for example: “When you see her your eyes awake, electric bulbs on a birthday cake. Would you care for a lump of steak?” But the lyrics never sound dumb and they won’t embarrass you, just don’t try figuring them out.

Insanely Jealous is a powerhouse track with an almost 80’s dance beat sound to its pulsating high-hat pinching rhythm. Tonight and the surf-inspired instrumental workout, You’ll Have To Go Sideways are personal favorites and Old Pervert beats with intense authority, showing some Capt. Beefheart influence. It’s an album that will slowly work its way into your psyche and eventually become a simple classic.

The 2001 Matador re-release includes a 2nd disc chronicling the rehearsal takes leading up to Underwater Moonlight. These are not throw-away tracks by any means (especially Only The Stones Remain) and it’s a beautiful reissue. This may not mean much to you, but this is an album that I carried around with me for a whole summer, dinging up the case, dripping paint on it somehow, and making it all the more VG+++ in my mind.

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“Insanely Jealous”

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  • What a great album! I found out about this via The House Of Love, who clearly owe a lot to the sound of The Soft Boys.

  • B

    yup, one of the best. I’ll check out that band you mentioned. Thanks for coming by, Phil. btw, I really enjoyed your work w/ the ramones.

  • dk

    I love this record. A true lost classic…

  • James

    I believe I introduced you to this record. Drunk in a basement somewhere? ….most likely.

  • Anthony

    I bought this album because the cover spooked me so much I thought the music in side had to be worth hearing and I wasn’t wrong. I’d heard of Robyn HItchcock, and his Syd Barrett obsession, but I wasn’t prepared for what lay inside the spine chilling cover. It’s a great great album. The opening track “I Wanna Destroy” comes on like Television, but the vocals are transcendent. The lyrics throughout are surreal and obscure but never try hard. “Kingdom of Love” with it’s huge reverb is about as un late ’70’s as you can get. “I got the Hots” with it’s strange off key crooning is pure class.The title track should’ve been a massive world wide hit, it’s so infectious and the guitars and backing vocals soar! I could go on…suffice to say, it’s an almost lost classic which should’ve been massive and the Soft Boys should be as well known as XTC or Teardrop Explodes. and that cover still gives me the shits. Genius.

  • dan

    bought this back in the nineties, the old rykodisc edition. it actually has a cool cover of syd barret’s ‘vegetable man’–also, check out robyn hitchcock’s solo record called ‘black snake diamond role’

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