Saturn Return is the hotly anticipated debut album from Te Whanganui-a-Tara three-piece Soft Plastics. Curating a wide range of influences, their music defies easy categorisation. Ranging from sun-bleached surf pop to swelling shoegaze, the songs are arranged with an investigative eye and a throughline of dry wit. What if we came at the guitars like this? What if The Ronettes were from Twin Peaks?
Pressed in Tāmaki Makaurau by Holiday Records (in collaboration with Supreme Coffees's vinyl pressing initiative Supreme Press), Saturn Return captures the many moods of the 20-something spiral, wallowing in the lows just long enough to have some fun before saying ‘fuck it’ and starting the long walk back up. Singer and bassist Sophie Scott-Maunder seems to relish switching between mourning and eye-rolling. Her expressive delivery and wryly evocative lyrics play back various quarter-life crises with searing clarity. Jonathan Shirley’s guitars eddy in, layered and reverbed, bringing billowing dimension and texture. Deft, driving drums from Laura Robinson propel the album, building to a fizzing crescendo.
Recorded and mixed by James Goldsmith, Soft Plastics have created a captivating and generous record. It will feel bracingly familiar for anyone who has been put through Saturn’s wringer, and provide an illuminated pathway for those among us still ticking off their 20s.
Holiday Records has the absolute pleasure to have a quick catch-up with Sophie about the new album and her relationship to the beautiful medium that is vinyl. See the interview below.
PRE-ORDER THE VINYL HERE.
Tell us a bit about yourself - Where are you from? How did you get into music? Who are your favourite artists?
Soft Plastics are an indie rock trio based in Te Whanganui-a-Tara. Sophie sings the songs and plays the bass, Jono shreds the guitar and sometimes plays the synth, and Laura hits the drums and does impressions of people. We've all been involved in music in one way or another since we were kids. We enjoy a varied selection of music and draw inspiration from all corners of the musical world. Some of our faves are Japanese Breakfast, Angel Olsen, Slowdive, Yeah, Yeah, Yeahs, The Motels, Weyes Blood and Big Thief. People often compare us to Fur Patrol but that's purely coincidental. I'd say we're fairly rooted in the alternative rock genre.
Tell us a bit about the album - What were some of the inspirations behind its creation/of the album itself?
Saturn Return is an astrological transit that occurs when Saturn returns to the same place it did when you were born. The cycle happens (roughly) every 29 years and is often considered a period of change and difficulty. I suppose the album explores our journey of existing in our late 20's - themes such as heartbreak, change and getting older. In simple terms you could probably just call it a break up album!
Tell us about the album artwork - What was the inspiration? Who is the artist/photographer?
The album artwork was done by Robbie Motion who is an extremely talented painter and artist living in Te Whanganui-a-Tara. The cover features Saturn (a god in Roman mythology) holding a scythe, which is how he is often depicted. We were really keen to lean into a Tarot card inspired figure with a duotone colour palette. Una Conlon took our vague brief and did an incredible job of putting on the final design touches and laying everything out. Our amazing friend Lewis Ferris took the beautiful mug shots that you can see on the inner sleeve of the album.
Tell us why you chose to press it to vinyl - What do vinyl records mean to you? Why did you choose Holiday Records?
This is our first large body of work that we have made as a group so it's not only a physical record but a record of our achievement. It's an audio format but also a piece of art. It feels special to hold a physical and tangible version of your album, whether that be a cassette tape, CD or in this case a 12" vinyl record! We think it's important to support local businesses in Aotearoa, and especially those in the music industry. It's not easy venturing into an extremely niche market at the bottom of the earth so it's awesome that we can manufacture our album in little old Aotearoa.
Any upcoming gigs we can plug?