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Soft Hearted Scientists - Golden Omens album review

Welcome world of weirdness from Welsh wonders Soft Hearted Scientists.

Soft Hearted Scientists - Golden Omens album artwork

Cardiff’s baroque psychedelic ensemble Soft Hearted Scientists are seven albums in already: like its predecessor The Slow Cyclone, this is wilfully loose, relaxed and home-made. Yet they examine more ideas than many bands have in a lifetime. It’s so laid-back that it never makes you work too hard, but you know you’re in safe (never boring) hands. Listen with languor – and wit, beauty and observation will emerge.

They’re as much Beta Band as Syd Barrett, often loping along with a wry shrug. The songs slide easily from acoustic riverside musings to electric outer-space sojourns, pulled together by their dry humour. Its stoner perceptions include a hymn to the joys of hibernation, dreamlike expeditions through Welsh mountains and London’s concrete, a pop at Simon Cowell, a strange confrontation with a police helicopter and the fascinating shape of jellyfish.

It’s like sitting in a vintage music hall with peeling walls and finding the whole thing amusing and illuminating beyond all reasonable expectation. Lesser outfits might deliver this British eccentricity in a way that irritated your last nerve, but this is a charmer. The omens are good. They’re golden.

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Chris Roberts has written about music, films, and art for innumerable outlets. His new book The Velvet Underground is out April 4. He has also published books on Lou Reed, Elton John, the Gothic arts, Talk Talk, Kate Moss, Scarlett Johansson, Abba, Tom Jones and others. Among his interviewees over the years have been David Bowie, Iggy Pop, Patti Smith, Debbie Harry, Bryan Ferry, Al Green, Tom Waits & Lou Reed. Born in North Wales, he lives in London.