Though relationship difficulties and the touring and recording commitments of frontwoman Missy Thangs to bigger band The Love Language have slowed the progress of her Soft Company, this debut shouldn't be ignored. Squeezing six songs into two 7" sides, EP decorates Thangs' love-and-hate songs with complex but concise, elaborate but economical arrangements. Despite the brevity, a bevy of intricacies demands close, repeated listens. Still, little feels unnecessary, and few spaces feel too full. Rather, rich harmonies, layered keyboards and counterpoint guitars slip and slide beneath each other, lifting these torch songs to heights that suggest Brian Eno, Roxy Music and a deliberately excitable Cocteau Twins.
Thangs even calls Roxy Music by name on "Come Now (Stop It)," a brisk kiss-off that builds through a galloping drum clack and into a radiant pop glow. But its successor, "You Miss Me," shows a songwriter capable of letting those impulses smolder, smoke drifting from the ash like the bond slowly seeping from a friendship. The sextet featured here has no trouble matching such finesse and delicacy. On "You Miss Me," for instance, Bob Wall's carefully played snare pattern sounds somehow casual and at ease, offering the drift the emotion requires. Flip the vinyl, though, and he's a firm, unflappable rhythmic center for "Stark & Jesperson," sealing the beat airtight so that the song's dual guitars and the jubilant melody spring right through the speakers.
Soft Company's Missy Thangs plays The Pinhook Friday, Oct. 30, backed by the band BADCO. Shipwrecker and Spacelab are on that 10 p.m. bill.