The self-titled debut by Soft Palms is the brainchild of Julia Kugel (The Coathangers, White Woods) and Scott Montoya (formerly of The Growlers). The album is a feast of rich sounds and simple, comforting melodies threading together scrappy dream pop and ethereal torch songs into a sultry, spacey, and sublime journey towards brighter horizons. Kugel and Montoya’s unflappable positivity in Soft Palms serves as the creative arm of their ongoing behind-the-scenes work in the Long Beach music community, such as planning Happy Sundays free music festival, running the arts non-profit Studios for Schools, and organizing Long Beach POP local events calendar Long Beach POP—all in an effort to celebrate, promote, and produce art and music through community and positivity. In the moments when the wife-and-husband team aren’t elevating and empowering other artists, they’ve channeled their passion into Soft Palms.
Album opener “Baddy” sets the tone for the album by laying down a simple guitar line with a grandiose vocal melody run through Phil Spector’s wall-of-sound production. The vibe continues through “Rainbow” where Kugel’s lilting voice floats against a backdrop of hypnotic upbeat instrumentation and Montoya’s dubbed out studio effects. The album continues to be a feast of rich sounds and simple, comforting melodies—from the heavenly country waltz and cosmic slide guitar on “Oh Then Then” to the gentle fingerpicked guitar and string swells of the closing ballad “Not Love.” The entire album gives off an aura of intimacy while also creating a broader, pastel colored world—a duality achieved through the meticulous recording process at the couple’s home studio COMA. But more than anything, Soft Palms captures Kugel and Montoya’s unflappable positivity and energy and serves as yet another outlet for their ongoing work to make the world a better place.