Spectrals- Bad Penny album review

Originally published on The Line Of Best Fit October 25, 2011

Mid October is the last chance saloon for debut album releases.  Any later and they risk being caught up in Christmas releases and the last of a year’s ‘biggies’ or simply ignored because hacks are putting together their end of year lists and trying to out-do each other with their ones to watch. It’s also the final opportunity for 2011’s said list entries to prove their worth – ten months is ample time to produce a record to make our heart melt. That means you Spectrals.

In 2010 Louis Jones’ hazy lyricism skipped from Big Sur into the heart of Yorkshire bringing the sound of Best Coast to the land of the pot roast. While Bethany Cosentino sang of Boyfriends from shimmering beach, Jones released ‘Peppermint’ (or Pe’p’mint for the authentic Yorkshire twang), a track oozing with 60s wall of sound melodies, but with a typically British understatement. Spectrals were the ones to watch.

The sound Spectrals carved with ‘Peppermint’ is carried throughout Bad Penny- a record which doesn’t hold your hand at a 60s school disco, but pushes through the hall  doors as class mates  turn and look. It’s brash, with a bratty youthfulness which is baying for attention, like a child repeatedly asking “why?” and there’s no escape. You’re caught in the record as every musical space is filled with Spector (no not the band) intricacies and boldness. Bad Penny certainly isn’t a Lo-Fi Bedroom record.

It’s depth is aurally drowning with opener ‘Get a Grip’, a song cohesively balancing layers of melodic reverb acting as the records gambit and defines Bad Penny.  ‘Lockjaw’ follows with a hazy pedal steel under a metronomic desert breeze, and at only two minutes it triumphantly vanishes from town at sunset.

Bad Penny already oozes with retro casual breeziness so while ‘Big Baby’ stomps along and  ‘You Don’t Have To Tell Me’ is swept in its wave of tremolo, Jones is enabled to concentrate on the song-writing and tune rather than setting the scene. Songs of heartbreak are set amongst shimmering jazz guitars and tinkling glam rhythm yet are somewhat hesitant to fully open up. Jones’ vocals are masked in a distant effect which along with his singing style makes it a lyrically difficult record.  Battling through to hear the words takes patience and effort as there’s so much similarly mixed music barricading them….

Continue reading full article here.


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