Spectrals Sob Story – Album Review

Spectrals’ new album Sob Story is set for release tomorrow (June 3) through Wichita Recordings. On Sob Story Heckmondwike, Yorkshire resident Louis Jones ooze a new confidence not heard on the previous record Bad Penny or his earlier single releases. The songs on Sob Story sparkle: they are catchier, poppier and more direct than before.

Sob Story displays Louis’s wide-ranging influences – many loves developed on family car journeys growing up – from Big Star and The Rolling Stones, through Nick Lowe, Tom Petty and Slade to Galaxie 500 and even Blink-182. Some of these sounds are more obvious than others but it is legendary Welsh Rock’n’Roller, Dave Edmunds, that Louis names as the key influence on his song-writing and the sound he wanted on this record, saying that he was “trying to cop some of those Country and Rockabilly licks he does”. Louis takes all these influences and puts them together to create something that is undeniably Spectrals.

The single and track number two on the record, A Heartbeat Behind is the definition of Rock ‘n’ Roll in the modern era. It’s a catchy number where the vocals really place this song into the Rock ‘n’ Roll genre; the slighty distorted, wavering notes really help to bring this track to life. There are some great guitar licks that will brighten your day. This Spectrals track, both musically (the last guitar riff towards the end of the track) and especially vocally, may remind you of the days of good old style Green Day (think Nimrod or Warning).

Track three Karaoke kick starts with a fast tempo drum beat accompanied by a deep bass riff which almost sounds like something The Beta Band would have come up with. As soon as the guitar riff steps in though, that Beta Band feeling is displaced by Spectrals Country influences. The chorus, “I don’t think I was really cut out for this/Who is/Who is/Who is?” will instantly get stuck in your head, especially as the lyrics are sung just before that wonderful summer themed guitar lick gets played (just take a listen you’ll know what I mean straight away).

Spectrals

Spectrals

Sob Story is the next track and is Spectrals latest release. The band announced its release a couple of weeks back. Louis Jones believes: “…this might be the best song I’ve written.

“I think this is the first time I’ve talked about religion in a song. I am romantic to a silly extent and I am disposed to believing in all sorts of things that there is absolutely no proof for but not Jesus and his Dad. I just don’t like the story that much, not compared to Harry Potter or something.”

Sob Story brings a more sombre tone to the album. Jones’ vocals are emotional and much more pronounced than on previous releases. He used to hide his vocals behind clouds of echo and reverb but not anymore. Being able to hear all those wavering notes adds to the emotion behind the song. Up until Sob Story, the tracks are relatively short but Sob Story is in fact the longest track on the record totalling more than five minutes.

The next track Milky Way is a track that revisits Spectrals theme for songs which also happens to be the theme for the album. As Jones once said it’s all “just about love really”. The lyrics in Milky Way reflect on love and relationships and what it all means. Milky Way can be heard here.

After the more melancholy track Friend Zone, Limousine kicks starts the next few upbeat songs on the album. Limousine is another track for the summer; it’s perfect for blasting out on your car stereo while driving along those country roads in the sun. It’s one of the more rockier tracks on Sob Story with distortion seeping back in.

Something To Cry About is very Rock ‘n’ Roll influenced. It just feels like the perfect summer soundtrack. The lyrics are very enticing in this song, “Give me something to cry about/What will I do if my blues run out?” Something To Cry About seems to be about those relationships that we know are bad for us yet we always return for more,. Without that downtrodden feeling, we don’t feel complete.

Keep Your Magic Out Of My House is one of the best songs on Sob Story. The grungy Blues guitar riff feels anthemic. Keep Your Magic Out Of My House would be an immense song to hear performed live. It has such an atmosphere on the album alone. The drum beat and clapping really give it that raw, live sound.

So why is there a cleaner sound on Sob Story than Spectrals’ previous releases? Well, that’s down to Chet ‘JR’ White from the band GIRLS who lent a hand in producing the album. Louis Jones and his brother and permanent band member, Will, flew out to San Francisco to work on the record in Decibelle Studio. Working in JR’s home-town allowed him to call in friends of his to contribute their own magic to moments of the album. Guitarist Jon Anderson added lead guitar to five of the twelve tracks. The band were also joined on three songs by pedal-steel player, Tom Heyman and JR even played some of the bass lines himself as well as adding some deft manipulation from behind the soundboard. It has done Spectrals a world of good and has helped them produce a much more mature record which oozes a huge range of genres from Rock ‘n’ Roll, Country to Pop. Sob Story is out June 3.

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