EP: Softcult – ‘Year Of The Snake’

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

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Kate Crudgington

WATCH: Softcult – ‘Spit It Out’

A lush, swirling guitar tune that gently encourages listeners to face their unconscious bias, Canadian duo Softcult have shared their latest single ‘Spit It Out’. Since the release of their debut EP Year Of The Rat earlier this year, the pair have been busy working on new material, with this new offering building on their existing manifesto to resist and relieve the pressures that come with existing in a patriarchal world.

Formed of Ontario-based twins Phoenix and Mercedes Arn Horn, Softcult cut their teeth playing live shows in their local town of Kitchener, before moving on to bigger audiences on the North American tour circuit. Their experiences of playing and working within a male-dominated industry formed the foundation for their current sound, which is born from the desire to reject toxic standards of femininity and embrace a more equal world.

‘Spit It Out’ embodies this outlook, as the band explain in more detail: “The song is about rejecting harmful ideologies that we’ve come to accept as normal, even though they perpetuate our own oppression. Most people understand that misogyny, sexism, racism, etc are wrong, but don’t often notice when it occurs in our every day lives, in the media, or how we’ve been conditioned to perceive the world. We can even unknowingly become part of the problem because we’ve internalized these ways of thinking. We wrote the song about resisting societal standards which only serve to benefit those that hold power over others. By simply refusing to accept these ideologies, we can weaken the pillars in our society that allow oppression and injustice. It all starts with questioning them in the first place, and then deciding that we aren’t going to continue to contribute to them.”

Watch the video for ‘Spit It Out’ below.

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Photo credit: Judith Priest

Kate Crudgington

EP: Softcult – ‘Year Of The Rat’

A culmination of their thoughts on and experiences of sexism, misogyny and objectification, twin sisters Phoenix and Mercedes Arn Horn aka Softcult have crafted a bittersweet collection of lush, grunge-infused songs on their debut EP, Year Of The Rat. Pushing through pain and reflecting on their hard earned emotional resilience, the Canadian duo have written an ultra-cool manifesto of resistance designed to help relieve the pressures that come with existing in a patriarchal world.

Informed by their love of 90s guitar bands like Bikini Kill and My Bloody Valentine, as well as the bubble-gum grunge of Beabadoobee and Soccer Mommy, Softcult blend atmospheric guitars, energetic percussion and hazy vocals to create their softly antagonistic sounds. Working from their home studio for most of 2020, Phoenix and Mercedes were able to take stock of what they really wanted to achieve under their new moniker and Year Of The Rat is a mature offering that highlights the duo’s instincts for creating heady soundscapes that soothe the sting of a painful past.

“It might seem like we’re just super angry but it comes from a place of wanting to make positive change, which always starts with a conversation,” explains guitarist & vocalist Mercedes. This anger and empathy manifests itself in different ways throughout the EP, which kicks off with the melodic ‘Another Bish’. The duo find catharsis amidst their swirling riffs and frantic beats, arriving at the humbling realisation that even though you can’t always change someone else’s perception of you, you can refuse to be “tamed” by their reductive views.

The melancholic ‘Gloomy Girl’ provides listeners with a glimpse behind the veil of depression. It’s a tentative musing on the ominous feeling that you’re “wasting away” whilst going through a period of poor mental health. ‘Take It Off’ aches with a subdued anger that’s directed at catcallers, but it also doubles up as a care-free dismissal of ridiculous trophy wife standards. The pair continue to shrug off the emotional labour that’s routinely pushed onto women’s shoulder on the shimmering, restless ‘Young Forever’, before closing the EP with the cutting, yet tender sounds of ‘Bird Song’.

Fuelled by their desire to instigate change in their own circles and further afield, the Softcult blend observational lyrics, smooth vocals and atmospheric riffs together on Year Of The Rat to punctuate their personal statement against injustice and provide listeners with a brooding, polished, unexpectedly light listen.


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Kate Crudgington