[sic] Magazine

For Against – Black Soap EP

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If you don’t know Nebraska’s For Against you’re missing a treat. They have taken that early eighties, Factory Records sound but moulded something far more dreampop. The results are languid, stark and fascinating. Recent albums have been intricate, reflective and utterly delightful. Although admittedly icy For Against neither copy nor pastiche the gothic scene. They are not a Goth band. Not to these ears. No silly costumes. No rasped, sixth form poetry. Instead singer Jeff Runnings offers light, sensitive airings and it all seems a bit more real and a lot more moving. Black Soap is a collection of the bands earliest recordings. The three tracks are all previously unreleased. Sure they sound of their time but it is hard to understand quite why they were never put out before now.

The three tracks follow the sequence ‘good’, ‘better’, ‘best’. I think the early work of The Cure has been an influence here. ‘A Forest’ like basslines pulsate whilst a stabbing, Banshee esque guitar rises and falls creating an eerie atmosphere. ‘Black Soap’ itself is quite chaotic but by ‘Dark Good Friday’ the band already sound accomplished. Comsat Angels provide another key reference, particularly on this second track. Yet it is third and final piece, ‘Amen Yves’ which takes all the plaudits. ‘Amen Yves’ is the type of track which can only really work as a b-side or EP track. Part daydream, part toe-tapper, ‘Amen Yves’ has probably been a Holy Grail for any For Against collector.

Black Soap is a doomy, monochrome record. Indeed each of the three songtitles references some kind of lightness or dark. (‘Amen Yves’ subtitle is White Circles) Unreleased though? What were they thinking?

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