Like the serpent that it’s named after, Year Of The Snake, the second EP from Canadian duo Softcult is a determined effort to shed the skin of past trauma, reject toxic behaviours and make space for healing.
Informed by their experiences of sexism and objectification as young women in the music industry, twin siblings Phoenix and Mercedes Arn Horn’s debut offering Year Of The Rat (2021) was a collection of bittersweet, grunge-infused sounds that soothed the sting of a painful past. On their follow up record Year Of The Snake, Softcult continue to dissect these difficult memories, but with a renewed focus on how they can use them as the foundations for true self autonomy.
A seething take down of the all-too-familiar excuse “Boys will be boys,” opener ‘BWBB’ sends a direct message to enablers of toxic “bro-code”. Heavily distorted riffs and crashing percussion drive home the message “Boys will be boys / but these boys are men / and these girls didn’t ask / to be touched by them.” It sits in powerful contrast to closing track ‘Uzumaki’, a heavy lament about the “vicious cycle” of PTSD caused by the behaviours the pair attack in ‘BWBB’.
Softcult’s hard earned emotional resilience shines through on ‘Spit It Out’ and ‘Gaslight’. The first is a brooding extrapolation on rejecting unconscious bias, whilst the second is an urgent, shadowy exploration of that “sinking feeling” of self doubt in an unbalanced relationship. On the more introspective ‘House Of Mirrors’, the pair channel their fears of falling short through swirling riffs and soft dual vocals, whilst ‘Perfect Blue’ is a melodic reflection on compromising your identity to please others.
Antagonistic and tender in equal measure, Softcult’s Year Of The Rat is a melodic reckoning, urging listeners to peel away the remnants of self-doubt, trust their instincts and to allow themselves the time and space to heal.
Listen to Sofcult’s new EP Year Of The Rat here