Clocking in at a total of about 32 minutes, the album never feels like it's outstaying its welcome. Its opening track, "Another Invocation of the Breath," is typical in its fetchingly quaint juxtapositions, parping and hissing like a steamboat in an old Mickey Mouse cartoon. "Doorbell"'s dotty keyboard line veers on and off kilter, as if dodging the periodic, sampled noise of what sounds like someone throwing slops out of a high window. Despite its rattling backdrop of saucepan lids, the loping backbeat and warm, sustained tones of "Did You Feel It" offset any excess of mere quirkiness—a necessary measure of intensity, especially when followed by "Radio Love" and its inebriated collapse of wah-wahs and squeezebox synths. But then there's the spectral "Why Toto," with a backbeat that sounds like its scrunching through heavy snow, lit up by the eerie, throbbing drones of a horror movie organ.
"Pearlfriend" is among the album's loveliest moments, its hazy turnover of shimmering pastoral distortions creating a sort of erotic churn. "Don't" rears and lurches over and over like the head of a deep house vocalist trapped in a lava lamp, while "Ah Ah" is a crashing, banging joust of vaulting, arpeggiated riffing. Finally, "Wist" (featuring Andrew Vanwyngarden) trails sunset clouds of reverb—sheer, unadulterated beauty to offset any element of over-fussy experimentalism.
Soft Opening is, of course, hardly dance floor friendly—most of these tracks feel like they would evaporate instantaneously if they tried to leave the house, let alone take their place in any public space. As a debut collection of electronic oddities, it works just fine, though. Next time out, Pearl Necklace should try to stretch out and expand on what they've achieved here.