“I’ll write you a pop song one day,” David Kilgour sings on Left By Soft, and as usual he’s being modest. Kilgour has been writing pop songs—pretty, jangly, unassuming pop songs—for more than 30 years, both as a member of The Clean and on his own via leisurely produced solo records that amble along amiably every three or four years. On Left By Soft, Kilgour’s first record with his long-time backing band The Heavy Eights since 2007’s The Far Now, his way with brisk, chiming melodies remains as casually assertive as ever on Clean-style, mid-tempo strummers like “Steel Arrow” and “Could Be On My Way.” But Left By Soft is first and foremost a band album; recorded with minimal overdubs over the course of a week in a country lodge not far from Kilgour’s home in New Zealand, the record is a spotlight for his delightfully unhinged guitarwork, which veers frequently into long, eloquent solos. On sprawling, six-string-centric numbers like “Autumn Sun” and “Diamond Mine,” The Heavy Eights take a cue from Crazy Horse’s playbook, providing a simple yet tuneful backdrop for Kilgour’s winding extrapolations. Even when Kilgour takes off from the song, he never loses the melody; it’s been his surest guide through a career that remains as hummable as ever.
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