The Soft Moon: Pop for Outsiders

The sound of San Francisco's Soft Moon is disorienting: A darkly hyperactive Neu! mixed with the dance-floor sensibility of Depeche Mode and the stark despair of Bauhaus makes The Soft Moon one cynically crafted machine. But the most disorientating tactic in frontman Luis Vazquez's arsenal is his muted vocals.

Listen to some '80s bubblegum pop again, like "Promises, Promises" by Naked Eyes or Soft Cell's version of "Tainted Love" -- it's the same thing, but without some exuberant pop singer pushed in front. You can really feel some sort of malice.