Three years on from their stellar Good Feelings LP, the Soupcans return with another LP for Toronto’s Telephone Explosion Records, Soft Party. Just as Good Feelings was a dramatic leap forward in style and fidelity (i mean, for the soupcans, at least), Soft Party marks another push towards refining the sound of the band. The ‘cans have reigned in the feedback and psychedelic tendencies of their previous releases in favour of a thick, focused assault of guitars and drums. Not to say the ‘cans have lost any of their edge; quite the opposite, really. Soft Party is as loud, abrasive, and disgusting as any soupcans record should be. It’s also completely and utterly badass.

Much of the record should be familiar to anyone who has followed the ‘cans over the last year. These songs have been staples of their live shows for awhile now. Some tracks are definitive versions of songs that have existed in various forms for sometime: Opening ripper “Crimes 1” was featured on their split release with Shearing Pinx in demo form. A live take of “Razor Face” was released on a 7″ lathe put out by TER back in the summer. The keen super fan might recognize “DOB,” as a demo of the track was included on the 2014 Incline Decline mixtape. Of all these familiar tracks, nothing compares to the absolute monster that is “Young ‘n’ EZ.” Originally appearing on a single for Bruised Tongue in 2014, “Young ‘n’ EZ” find the ‘cans channelling their inner Sabbath, or at least their inner Black Flag circa My War, delivering four minutes of pounding proto-metal doom. On Soft Party, they pull the tempo down and things get tougher, harder. It’s the soupcans at their best. On the merit of this alone, Soft Party is an absolute success.

Elsewhere the ‘cans deliver on their classic hardcore punk sound (single “Siamese Brutality”, “Hairicide”, “Dripzone”), even getting out there and noisy on the appropriately titled “Murder Parade.” But the album’s most engaging tracks are when they slow things down slightly: “Nice Nife,” “Psychosomatic Rash,” and the title track all offer something slightly different, a breathe of fresh air that keeps Soft Party throughly engaging from front to back. Praise must be given to James Toth, the record producer/engineer, for making this the best sounding ‘cans record to date.

The Soupcans won’t be winning over any non-believers with this record. But for the fans, Soft Party delivers in every conceivable way, proving why they’re considered to be among Toronto’s very best bands.