Though they hail from Brooklyn, Soft Landing can sound a bit like a band without a country. The spry indie-poppers— headed by Beirut associate Paul Collins, with that band’s Perrin Cloutier on drums here— cut their ebullient tunes with snatches of Tropicália, mariachi, samba, and Balearic beat. You name it, they dabble in it, but unlike their sometime-boss Zach Condon— who delves into his disparate source material head on— Soft Landing let their ex-pat dalliances color the tunes rather than drive them. They move confidently through these bouncy mutlicultural flourishes, liberally draping brassy keyboard fanfares and shimmering dancefloor textures onto their sprightly songs. But their breezy melodies are both outshined and outweighed by their arrangements; the sound’s there, but the songs underneath could stand a little more fleshing out.
Collins’ voice is warm and sweet, if not the most expressive; he’s got much of Condon’s sustain but little of his vibrato, and he sings the tunes with a sort of pleasant, everyman ease. A few clever turns aside, his lyrics are similarly serviceable, almost cute; “Ibiza” is about a dancefloor, “Papaya” a gentleman’s surname. In “Mic Check”, “this love” is real, but “this world” isn’t, and that’s just about all you’ll learn. The songs— largely strummy, mid-tempo acoustic things— flit by amicably enough, but stripped of their window dressing, they’re fairly straightforward, unsurprising in their construction. The lightness in tone, the crisp recording, and especially all the judiciously applied instrumental touches give Soft Landing its character; without them, as on the comparatively unadorned “Pendleton Woolen”, the album slips into competent anonymity.
Still, those arrangements really are something; despite its goofy lyric, ad execs ought be on high alert for the immediately appealing chunky Spanish guitar rave-up of “Mic Check”, and the recent glut of Balearic-influenced dance tracks doesn’t make the faux-naif “Ibiza” knock any less. Keyboard gurgles and percussive explosions pop up around nearly all of Collins’ melodies; they’re not meant to be the focal point, but when the songs themselves don’t have much to offer, there’s always something else going on. But fun’s fun, and while at this point Soft Landing’s buoyant, uncomplicated tunes aren’t much more, they’re also rarely anything less.
— Paul Thompson, January 7, 2011