Few indie bands have been as well-hyped in recent years as Spector.
Telegenic, impeccably styled in a la mode suits and leather shoes, and occupying a berth on the BBC’s Sound of 2012 list, they seem almost too vogue to be believed.
Whether you’ve succumbed to the publicity or not is now irrelevant however, because their debut album is here – there’s no longer any pithy witticisms or ham-handed proclamations to hide behind; just 12 songs that constitute ‘Enjoy It While It Lasts‘.
The album opens with ‘True Love (For Now)‘, and though musically it starts slow, sounding more like a Fred Macpherson interview (you know, Fred banging on in a monotone, as he does), it soon morphs into a hip, cool, ready-made pop hit, complete with indie disco flourishes and the requisite dosages of heartbreak all good pop songs require, the latter of which come in the form of some surprisingly touching lyrics: ‘Let’s fake a memory, pretend it was all real and we never got bored’. As if to underscore their penchant for polarising opinions, the next tune, ‘Chevy Thunder‘ is purposefully uncool – a turbulent, rollicksome ode to Americana, a song which has Spector sounding like some crude composite of The Darkness and Maximo Park.
Spector rarely stray too far from their comfort zone of slashing guitars and all-pervading synthesisers. They’ve been compared to a clutch of acts from a smattering of genres, but don’t be mistaken – Spector are very much an indie band; they mix pop sensibilities with gloomy themes and spiky indie riffs seemingly without effort. ‘Grey Shirt And Tie‘ is a sweeping and overwrought love song, which, like most of the tracks on here, sketches a palpable fear of the march of time (as well as that most typical of indie staples: lovesickness). ‘I know we’re getting older every night and each day,’ Macpherson moans, while the catchy ‘Twenty Nothing‘ is all about pining for a simpler time and place. Later, on the anthemic ‘Upset Boulevard‘, you almost want to shake the 24-year-old Macpherson’s lapels when he complains, ‘You’ll never be 19 again’ or ‘What grows up must come down!’
They’re not always moaning about age, though. The band sound full of vim on ‘Friday Night, Don’t Let It Ever End‘, which is not dissimilar to The Enemy’s ‘Saturday‘; a bold and muscular pop song with a nice bassline threading throughout it. There’s also a cool little guitar solo, which is all too brief. Sometimes they just mash the gloominess up with rock, on ‘Lay Low‘ for instance, which opens like a 50s blues song and rides along on its ‘You don’t light me up like you used to refrain’ before segueing into a full-on Queen-esque rock song – for one verse, anyway, before ending with swelling instrumentation, the vocal effects rendering Macpherson’s pained shouts all the more earnest. ‘No Adventure‘, meanwhile, is another trough to Friday’s peak – the definition of filler, though Macpherson shoehorns in some more age-themed navel gazing (‘I don’t want another 60 years, I would rather leave this world’) to maintain consistency.
While at times the album can be a trying listen, Spector are always good for some punchy pop-punk – in fact, more than once during this album, a dud song is followed by a gem – ‘What You Wanted‘ is lively, well-paced and rewarding, evocative of the early noughties guitar revival they strive for, and the sheer brio of ‘Celestine‘ is irresistible – you can even forgive yet another reference to growing old (‘I know the night is young, but tomorrow we might not be’). In fact, ‘Celestine’ is far and away the best song on ‘Enjoy It While It Lasts’; the shimmery chorus is damn catchy, the guitars come in waves, the lyrics evoke call and response as Macpherson yells ‘Keep the past in the past and notice that I only ever did what I thought was right!’
The album finishes strongly. ‘Grim Reefer’ (you have to assume the band were sloshed when they devised the title) is a surprisingly tender-hearted little number, pretty much just vocals for the first few minutes, both Macpherson’s and what sound like a chorus of children chiding ‘Oh-oh’ before a cacophony of noise envelops all, guitars crunch, symbols clatter and the song swells and rises into the rafters. The song seems to be about the ideology of love – ‘We could break from the pack,’ Macpherson implores, ‘We could never look back – Fly out into the sun – burn together as one,’ before the harsh reality sets in: ‘Or we could stay.’
Album closer ‘Not Fade Away‘ is dramatic, confident and about 2/3rds as epic as its title suggests – a rousing finish to what is certainly a good first album – sometimes maddening, sometimes joyous, but rarely forgettable.
If Spector buckle down and generate some new lyrical themes, their sophomore album could be an indie classic.