Album Review: Spector – Enjoy It While It Lasts
It’s fair to say that there’s a little bit of hype surrounding the release of Spector’s debut album.
Music critics have been queuing up to label them as the inevitable Next Big Thing, they’ve been packing out venues up and down the UK for a solid year, and with the mainstream landscape still dominated by pop, R&B and singer-songwriters, some have even gone so far as to hail them as ‘the saviours of indie-rock’. No pressure then.
Regardless of such hyperbole, and the somewhat unfair expectations that have been already piled upon them, Spector certainly go some way towards justifying the hype with this fine first album. Enjoy It While It Lasts is never less than entertaining, and at times it’s downright fantastic.
The single biggest issue with Spector’s music is that it offers little in the way of novelty, or its own distinctive sound. Most tracks are highly reminiscent of well-established indie greats, such as The Strokes (as on Twenty Nothing), and you can’t shake the feeling that pretty much everything on offer here has been served up elsewhere before.
In particular, Spector channel The Killers so strongly that at times everything from the backing rhythms to the shifts in gear, and even frontman Fred MacPherson’s vocal emphasis, rings with the influence of the Vegas electro-rockers.
It’s there in the epic, emotive ballads, and driving synth-laden anthems. It’s there in the wry, reflective verses, and the bouncy, chant-backed choruses. Indeed, if it weren’t for the presence of MacPherson’s rich, deep tones rather than the high-pitched pleas of Brandon Flowers on the likes of Friday Night, Don’t Ever Let It End and Upset Boulevard, you’d swear blind this was a new Killers record rather than an exciting debut from some hotly-tipped newcomers.
How fortunate then that the songs are so genuinely terrific. If you’re going to ape top bands, you better make sure you do it well – and Spector carry it off in some style.
The band have energy, panache, and a slice of exuberant cheekiness that results in an uplifting, optimistic edge to everything they do. MacPherson is also armed with a voice that has real character, shown off most keenly on the album’s penultimate track Grim Reefer, where he brings wounded vulnerability to a heartbreaking lament before the thing explodes into a magnificent, hopeful crescendo.
Roughly half of the twelve tracks here are bona fide great anthems. The cracking Chevy Thunder adds real clout to its air-punching indie sensibilities with raucous, shambolic punk foundations; What You Wanted piles on the electro to delicious effect, building to a chorus so joyful and dance-ready you can just see it becoming an instant festival classic.
Offering a lovely sense of poignant reflection, Grey Shirt & Tie is another highlight; while hand-clapping closer Never Fade Away is an ideal way to end an album. It’s warm, optimistic, and hopelessly romantic – introducing an air of art-rock classiness that would give Roxy Music a run for their money.
The way in which the band switch swiftly between care-free youthful rock-outs and profound, emotive musing is masterful, and they skillfully avoid coming across as disposable when they’re at their most light-hearted, or pretentious when they’re at their most earnest.
You could never accuse Spector of being a boundary-pushing band, but then they’re not trying to be. And what they offer here is so entertaining, endearing and enjoyable that the only reasonable reaction is to grin and be swept along for the ride. Generic or not, the Londoners have produced an absolutely brilliant indie album.
Is Enjoy It While It Lasts derivative? Absolutely.
Is it good? You’re damn right it is.
FMV Rating: ****