Soft Targets' singer and guitarist Jesse Corry has a knack for tales of love told in metaphor, whipped up with chiming guitars, vocal harmonies and some electric-piano textures. He often sings in falsetto and goes heavy on the drama, which might take a few songs to get used to, but his way with words offers plenty of reasons to keep listening.
Heavy Rainbow, the Soft Targets' latest release, opens on a bad scene: "Woke up, got kicked in the head by a word / two vowels, two syllables that smashed my face to the dirt." And the title track, it seems, tells of the murder of a "bastard praised too much" by the lover of his abused partner, with crazy dynamic shifts added for emphasis. Between Corry's delivery and storytelling skills, Soft Targets bear some resemblance to the Pernice Brothers, whose lyrics read like short stories.
Yet the band has been compared to more traditional pop hallmarks, such as Todd Rundgren and Electric Light Orchestra -- which works if they're judged strictly on the pop-hook factor. Surprisingly, the band's full sound comes from a relatively spare trio lineup of guitar, keyboard and drums. Nathan Sadler, who started the group with Corry as a duo four years ago, plays Fender Rhodes and Wurlitzer keyboards, handling bass duties with the left hand and filling out the melodic sections with the right. Drummer Steven Gillespie also helps out with the vocal harmonies.
Either way, their show on Thu., Sept. 18, at the Smiling Moose has a "Come for the hooks, stay for the words" quality to it.
Soft Targets with Signal to the Ocean Estate and Wino Riot. 9 p.m. Thu., Sept. 18. Smiling Moose, 1306 E. Carson St., South Side. $5. 412-431-4668 or www.smiling-moose.com