A quiet triumph of a debut from a Manchester outfit on the rise.
Mike Diver 2011
Preston-formed, Manchester-based outfit Spokes have been going about their business fairly quietly since coming together in 2006. A self-released EP in 2008 attracted a little attention their way, but here is where they really make good on early promise: a debut album that is by turns beautiful and bombastic, rippling with raucous energy and seductive in its subdued melodies.
What Everyone I Ever Met is not, however, is a record that stands alone with its sound. Across its tracks there are pronounced echoes of Arcade Fire, Broken Records and Doves; less obviously, there are parallels to be drawn with similarly under-the-radar act Shady Bard, as both acts take aspects of folk and filter them through some dynamic post-rock sensibilities. But Spokes have been savvy enough to not dilute their material with too many definitive nods to influences, accidental or otherwise. So, while there are several moments where the listener will be temporarily transported to the work of another group, this takes nothing away from what’s a hugely satisfying experience.
We Can Make It Out takes the group vocals of a band like Danish symphonic-indie ensemble Efterklang and sets them against some busy percussion – the effect is pulse-raising, conveying drama aplenty. The slow-shifting Peace Racket also owes much to inspired indie arrangements from Scandinavia, conjuring comparisons with the off-kilter anthems penned by Mew. Torn Up in Praise could pass for a stripped-back Broken Social Scene, and the wonderfully sombre Happy Needs Colour will become a firm favourite of anyone particularly fond of melancholy most memorable.
Originality, then, isn’t really on the agenda for Spokes; but so excellent are these arrangements – in terms of feeling immediately familiar, without alienating through heard-it-before repetition – that the band’s failure to really find their own voice on this debut matters little. It’s a little too studied, maybe; a little show-off in places where some naivety might have proved a more endearing trait. But, despite so many elements that would, in another album, be terribly off-putting, Everyone I Ever Met is a fine first long-player. Think of it as a solid foundation to build something more unique from and it’s a triumph; or, better still, don’t think at all and let it tickle several sonic taste-buds in a single sitting.