Canadian rockers Mercedes and Phoenix Arn-Horn have returned to the alternative scene with a brand new sound.

A dynamic meld of dreamy sonics and riot grrrl-inspired angst, Softcult are driving home a record with a message.

The debut EP is packed with 90s grunge inspiration and wears its gritty, gloomy image on its sleeve.

Armed with a new look, the Arn-Horn twins are unafraid of baring their teeth and saying what they really mean. The duo elaborated on how they found freedom in their unapologetic sound.

When you’re not scared about what other people are gonna think you tend to write differently,” the band told GAY TIMES. We started getting more comfortable and confident writing honestly and realised it’s good to have your own identity.”

Softcult’s EP, Year of the Rat, deals with personal topics that have impacted both the sisters. Lead vocalist Mercedes Arn-Horn elaborates on how mental health has inspired the record: “A lot of songs are from personal experience are inspired by an actual event that happened. We are writing about our experiences and some songs are about abuse, objectification, and misogyny,” the singer explained.

“We were scared to write about it before because we thought it might be too subversive, but now we don’t really care if it is. We want to talk about it and have real meaningful conversations about it. These things need to be talked about or nothing’s gonna change.”

Speaking on mental health, Mercedes outlined how their single Gloomy Girls became an opportunity to fight the stigma around mental illness.

“People are talking more and more about mental health, but the conversation around mental illness has only just begun, I think. But all too often it’s trivialized, dismissed, or romanticized. We’ve lost a lot of amazing people… artists, activists, important voices and icons, who were struggling with mental illness and didn’t get help in time,” she said in a statement.

The singer added: “As an artist, I’ve experienced first hand how cruel some people’s comments can be, especially online. It’s almost like people don’t realise there’s a real person with insecurities and problems on the other side of the screen, and no one seems to care enough to fact check what anyone says anymore. We as a society need to accept some responsibility for the people we’ve lost, and reevaluate how we treat people struggling with mental illness.”

Year of the Rat is out now via Easy Life Records. You can listen to the EP on Apple Music and other available streaming services.