There’s just about enough here to justify Spector’s confidence.
Tom Hocknell 2012
You have to admire the bravery of new bands, stepping over the broken hopes of last week’s next big thing, clutching their own debut. Spector’s lead singer Fred Macpherson has even done it before with Ox.Eagle.Lion.Man. Undeterred, and bravely named after the most renowned of music producers, they have already appeared on Later… and the BBC Sound of 2012 list.
This album’s cover might defy austere times (and common sense), but it perfectly encapsulates the opulent music within. Spotting a gap in the market for mingling 80s new wave with 90s indie, Spector have pursued four producers to make this album – although it is unclear if this reflects indecision, or simply seeing what sticks best.
There’s a promising start, with Macpherson’s warm baritone (reminiscent of Editors’ Tom Smith), creaking to life as the beat of True Love (For Now) bolsters its fragility into a rock calling card. Regrettably, this is followed by the sub-Springsteen Chevy Thunder, a song cynically aimed at airplay rather than hearts.
As Grey Shirt & Tie finds a vaguely hip hop groove, with Craig Silvey’s (The Horrors) production transforming an otherwise average song, it becomes a struggle to grasp who Spector are. Twenty Nothing doesn’t help, as it swaggers around and swears, before collapsing into dull indie landfill.
However, Spector have attracted the attention of Trevor Horn, who produces Celestine, the unquestionable highlight. It’s a powerhouse of a song with epic Horn-isms all over it, including a gorgeous coda missing from the single version. It’s the perfect example of Spector working best when expensive production shimmers beneath Macpherson’s masterful vocals.
Elsewhere, Lay Low’s blustery self-importance sounds far better than a song recalling Ultravox ever should (though it worked for Hurts), and the strangely familiar No Adventure echoes Blur’s Tender. Grim Reefer plods, but strutting closer Never Fade Away saves the album from derivative obscurity.
The seeds for further endeavors are well sown. Although Enjoy It While It Lasts never truly digs in, lacking the effortless exuberance of All the Young’s recent Welcome Home, there’s just about enough here to justify Spector’s confidence.