Chelsea Jade: Soft Spot (Carpark) - review | Under the Radar Magazine Under the Radar | Music Blog for the Indie Music Magazine
Thursday, June 1st, 2023  

Chelsea Jade

Soft Spot


May 02, 2022 Web Exclusive Bookmark and Share

The current decade has proven itself fertile ground for the reimagining of art pop, which spent the ’10s largely withering on its vine. Remarkable—if initially misinterpreted—genre releases such as Lorde’s Solar Power suggest the imminence of a 2020’s art pop renaissance, and South African-born New Zealand-based singer/songwriter Chelsea Jade Metcalf’s sophomore album, Soft Spot, lends its hand in perpetuating this niche replenishment. Refining the nebulous indie dream logic of 2018’s acclaimed Personal Best into a clearer portrait of sleek hope and crippling heartache, Metcalf reemerges with a compositional strength previously untapped, rendering Soft Spot an intriguing entry into the year’s already impressive musical canon.

At times, Soft Spot feels like a millennial response to Björk’s 2004-released gem Medúlla, a portion of Metcalf’s sound indebted to that of the Icelandic avant-pop giant. Exploring the faraway breathy emissions of the latter release, Metcalf distinguishes herself from the brunt of modern pop artists via her unconventional arrangements and thoughtful lyrics. A self-described “art school dropout,” the singer tinkers with those aesthetic tastes most pleasurable to herself, Soft Spot’s moody temperature alternating between warm sensuality (radiant key track “Optimist” and soulful “Good Taste”) and cool reflection (woefully determined “Tantrum in Duet” and multilayered prose poetic closer “Night Swimmer”). The album’s soundscapes remain consistently evocative in tone and atmosphere. As a lyricist, Metcalf shows an uncanny knack for crafting wittily forward confessions which reveal her place at the center of an era in transit, her depictions both ultramodern and eloquent. Key tracks “Superfan” and “Best Behaviour” boast some of Metcalf’s finest lyrics, her truths riding high upon her irresistible pop hooks, proving her as able an artist as her more prominent peers. An innate creative confidence facilitates an exploration of self here, from elated proclamations of passionate fascination to straightforward sketches of personal and romantic dysfunction.

Soft Spot is a promising release by a unique talent who only seems to strengthen herself with each effort. Pop fans may rejoice at the album’s lively accessibility, while indie loyalists will likely appreciate its more artsy sensibilities and solid production value. Though lacking the sensational appeal found on an album by, say, Lorde (in whose “Mood Ring” music video Metcalf appeared last year), Soft Spot remains a solid release, and is guaranteed to please its core audience. If anything, “Optimist” and “Superfan” will surely prove themselves as great “art kid” summer jams, and “Night Swimmer” will likely warrant retrospective reconsideration as a noteworthy achievement in modern art pop. Indeed, Chelsea Jade has produced a commendable album, entirely worth the listen and conversation, its sophistication the mark of an artist with plenty of great work to come. (

Author rating: 7.5/10

Rate this album
Average reader rating: 8/10


Submit your comment

Name Required

Email Required, will not be published


Remember my personal information
Notify me of follow-up comments?

Please enter the word you see in the image below:

There are no comments for this entry yet.