Support Local Journalism. Join the Cleveland Scene Press Club.

The Soft Boys 

Underwater Moonlight (Matador)

Music history tends to stake its claims through hindsight. Two decades after the fact, this reissue is another attempt to revive a band that should have never fallen into these circumstances in the first place. The Soft Boys' Underwater Moonlight is a lost recording of unequivocal and dazzling talent. Although it was, at the time, what amounted to cultists' pleasure, Underwater Moonlight remains a rare exception to the oft-overmythologized cult norm, in that it's a record that actually sounds good. More accurately, it sounds brilliant. The Soft Boys quietly (and probably unknowingly) made a record that stands up to time's brutal erosion and one that sounds better than anyone could have ever told you it did. From the Fripp-like guitars that open the record on "I Wanna Destroy You" to the stylized highbrow Robyn Hitchcock lyrics and delivery and the rampant sun-drenched harmonies, the entire album startles with its concise perfection of the pop-punk form.

The music ultimately is stranded on an island halfway between punk and new wave, and occasionally gets lost in its naive psychedelia (try "Kingdom of Love," with its jagged roots groove and Hitchcock singing "You've been laying eggs under my skin/Now their hatching out under my chin/Now there's tiny insects showing through/And all those tiny insects look like you"), all of which feeds a beast of unique nature, stuck in the queer trap of being utterly original. Matador has, of course, beefed up the original 10 tunes on Underwater Moonlight with numerous outtakes, demos, and other mishmash that results in this bloated double-disc presentation. But it doesn't matter how hit-and-miss the extras are -- the original 10 songs (which kick off the whole thing in sequence) mark a masterstroke of modern rock and roll.

We welcome readers to submit letters regarding articles and content in Cleveland Scene. Letters should be a minimum of 150 words, refer to content that has appeared on Cleveland Scene, and must include the writer's full name, address, and phone number for verification purposes. No attachments will be considered. Writers of letters selected for publication will be notified via email. Letters may be edited and shortened for space.

Email us at [email protected].

Support Local Journalism.
Join the Cleveland Scene Press Club

Local journalism is information. Information is power. And we believe everyone deserves access to accurate independent coverage of their community and state. Our readers helped us continue this coverage in 2020, and we are so grateful for the support.

Help us keep this coverage going in 2021. Whether it's a one-time acknowledgement of this article or an ongoing membership pledge, your support goes to local-based reporting from our small but mighty team.

Join the Cleveland Scene Press Club for as little as $5 a month.

More by Kurt Hernon

Read the Digital Print Issue

January 5, 2022

View more issues

Most Popular

No recently-read stories.

Visit the archives…


Never miss a beat

Sign Up Now

Subscribe now to get the latest news delivered right to your inbox.


Staff Pick Events

  • Kiry Shabazz @ Hilarities Comedy Club

    • Thu., Jan. 27
  • Colin Mochrie and Brad Sherwood @ Packard Music Hall

    • Thu., Jan. 27
  • Soul Message Band Featuring Chris Foreman @ Bop Stop

    • Fri., Jan. 28

© 2022 Cleveland Scene: 737 Bolivar Rd., Suite 4100, Cleveland, OH 44115, (216) 505-8199
Logos and trademarks on this site are property of their respective owners.

Website powered by Foundation