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Spectrals Bad Penny Review

Album. Released 2011.  

BBC Review

Terrific stuff from a young Yorkshireman in a Morrissey-ish mould.

Lou Thomas 2011

Explaining why you like this album may cause problems. It’s been made by 21-year-old Louis Jones, who looks a young Mick Hucknall after a fortnight of pies and regrets, and all the songs are about the relationship Jones has had with his girlfriend since his schooldays. It was recorded in one day with producer Richard Formby, who has also worked with Wild Beasts and Spacemen 3.

Such a solid range of reasons to both despise and envy Spectrals’ main-man Jones can’t detract from assured and talented songwriting. Some of his feted early work is perhaps overrated, like the itchy and scratchy debut Leave Me Be and or the take-it-or-leave-it retro shimmy of Peppermint. But here Louis and younger brother drummer Will have ditched previous releases, despite their popularity with Spectrals’ early fanbase, to record 11 previously unreleased numbers for their first proper album. Results are fresh and varied in tone, but not so much in quality. This is a record Glasvegas would love to call their own: immediate, full of pathos, and somehow also cool of heart.

Of the many surprising moments on Bad Penny, perhaps the best is Luck Is There to Be Pushed. Aside from the genius title, it includes a beautiful, simple piano riff and synth loop combo that could turn Frankie Boyle into a Care Bear. Speaking of the title, if it echoes the concise wit of Alex Turner or Morrissey, this is no accident. Heckmondwike native Jones is clearly aware of the stupidity and hilarity of love, though some cynics may sneer that he has learned everything from The Last Shadow Puppets album.

On any ‘relationship’ album there’s always one weepie, and in this case it’s Lockjaw. There are shades of Richard Hawley when Louis sings, "You can’t take everything to heart," the effect sadder than someone having their dog put down at the vet. For those wanting to hear a Yorkshireman bringing the sound of Wild Nothing and Best Coast to England, and put a northern spin on things, You Don’t Have to Tell Me and Big Baby comprise essential listening. There’s even a song about marriage with humour and no mawkishness (Confetti). Jones could teach TV producers a thing or two.

Elsewhere there are touches of Two Door Cinema Club, The Jesus and Mary Chain and early Doves, but the Jones brothers and Formby clearly love a million reverb-soaked rock’n’roll records from the 50s and Phil Spector-produced girl group numbers from the 60s, too. Whatever the inspiration, everything adds up to 29 minutes that pack in more truth and melodies than many records twice as long. Terrific stuff from a songwriter of any age.

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