Music » Record Reviews

Quarantined with Quality Living’s Something Softly Caught Me

Indie rockers deliver a spring anthem — just in time for quarantine.

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Talk about bad luck. After two years of writing, recording, and production, New Jersey-based Quality Living released their second album, Something Softly Caught Me, via Sniffling Indie Kids this March. Right in the middle of a global pandemic.

Maybe it would be best to just review the (delightful) album without reference to the current health crisis (you’ve heard of the coronavirus, right?), but that seems somehow dishonest. But I’m working from home, and I can crank softly sweet rock songs all I want, so here we go: For fans of intricately layered indie rock, this album might make for a soothing sound to calm rattled nerves.

Quality Living
  • Quality Living

On Something Softly Caught Me, the band flirts tastefully with yacht rock, but, more than anything else, they sound like Pavement or Yo La Tengo — if those ’90s-era alt-rockers regularly embraced wailing saxophone runs. Pavement’s breezy tempo changes and Yo La Tengo-style dreamy numbers are on display in abundance.

Vocalist Darrel Norrell shifts between talk-singing, crooning, and full-on belting it out. This would have been a lovely soundtrack to a day at the lake … Oh, well, there’s always 2021?

Quality Living
  • Quality Living
“Roast Ghost,” a personal favorite of this reviewer, is a mellow, jazz-inflected groove. On “When I Most Needed It,” Norrell croons, “I could use that glass of wine.” On “Pretty Down,” fuzzy guitars blend with saxophones and hummed melodies. About the song, Norrell says, “When I was really young, I one day decided to try and leap down a full flight of stairs and land on my feet ’cause, you know, I had to be cool. And then the only supernatural thing that's ever happened to me occurred, and something slowed my fall. I was falling forward, and my trajectory gently changed. I landed light as a feather on my feet. People tend to tell me, ‘oh, that was obviously a dream,’ but to this day it feels too concrete to not be a memory.” The idea is a comfort in these strange times — even if the force is unseen, there may be something watching our back, ready to catch us.

“Riff on the Rabbit,” the album closer, is the song most indebted to Pavement, and Norrell’s vocals pay homage to Steven Malkmus as Norrell sings, “You’d better walk it off while you can, my man.” It will make an excellent walking anthem — once we can all go back outside.

Quality Living’s Something Softly Caught Me is available on Spotify, Apple Music, and Bandcamp.

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