A quick update – the work for The Ripple I mentioned a while back has basically culminated in this one album review. It’s only a hundred words in print, but longer here. I’m currently mulling over whether the investment was worth the result. At this moment, I’m not feeling it.
Spector – Enjoy It While It Lasts
By titling their album Enjoy it While It Lasts, Spector seem to be following The Vaccines by deliberately underselling their debut. It certainly starts softly, with ‘True Love (For Now)’ featuring a building synth intro. The drums kick in for the second verse, and soon enough we’re into a big chorus, with crashing drums, guitars and mastered to make your ears bleed. They’re pretty good at them, which is fortunate because it’s the record’s main characteristic. Indeed, the strongest tracks such as ‘Chevy Thunder’ and ‘Celestine’ rip along bearing some cracking melodies to shout-along to. Spector also do a line in synthesiser-led atmospheric ballads, such as ‘Grey Suit & Tie’ and ‘Lay Low’, which are perfectly fine but nowhere near as thrilling. The best example is ‘Never Fade Away’, which makes up for not being the Buddy Holly song by building gradually and satisfyingly to a suitably grandiose finale. It also benefits from being one of the few songs where there is actually space in the mix, giving you a chance to listen to its elements rather than be blasted at by them.
The album title also points to a melancholic vein in the record. Songs such as ‘Twenty Nothing’ may sound chirpy enough, but the lyrics tend to look wistfully back at teenage abandon rather than live in the heat of it. The break-ups outnumber the hook-ups, and the declaration of ‘Friday Night, Don’t Ever Let It End’ is delivered dripping with irony. Indeed, Fred Macpherson’s singing is pretty much Spector’s only USP – none of the instrumentation stands out as particularly inspired, much of it being a basic backing white noise. Macpherson has a deeper, more ringing sound than many other indie rock vocalists, which gives the band a grander tone. However, he performs with a strange mix of sincerity and ironic detachment, which isn’t an issue on the faster tracks but muddies the enjoyment of songs such as ‘No Adventure’. Ultimately, what this suggests is while Spector may have some witty turns of phrase, there’s no depth to the music. Although, I suppose suggesting this album is mainly concerned with surface sound is obvious from the first play.
Now, there’s nothing wrong with an album being all looks, but it does jeopardise an album’s staying power. There’s certainly nothing here to suggest any future for the band, and the record may well be swept under the carpet and forgotten by next year. However, the big songs are great fun to blast, nothing save ‘Grim Reefer’ drags and it’s perfectly pleasant to mix in amongst whatever else you may be listening to at pre-drinking. So, with Enjoy It While It Lasts, we have an album where the title accurately describes the experience. The Trading Standards Agency will be so pleased.
Lower Than Atlantis – Changing Tune
2012 has been set up to be Lower Than Atlantis’ year in the realm of small-to-medium sized UK rock bands. Their first ever headline tour sold out entirely via pre-sale. Radio One guru Zane Lowe had been a fervent advocate of the Watford quartet for a good twelve months. They signed a deal with Island Records making them labelmates with such eclectic and superstar artists as Tori Amos, Mariah Carey, Justin Bieber and Psy (yes, Gangnam Style). Promises are tricky fiends, however, despite all the hype their forthcoming album exuded.
LTA’s first two full-lengths are modern British rock gems. Far Q took the hardcore stylings of early work and melded it with a heavy Foo Fighters alternative influence – the British tend to do things with more grit than Americans. Rough around the edges, this latter style emerged fully-fledged from chrysalis on…
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