Due for release this week, ‘Now or Whenever’ is Spector’s first studio album in six years, and definitely worth the wait. Released on the band’s own label, Moth Noise, the album’s overcast reflection and snapshot moments create a hankering for a nostalgic past. Never fear, though - the darkness in this album is offset by sunny bursts of electric guitar and infectious lyrics undoubtedly best chanted at a gig by Spector’s ever-faithful fanbase.
The album’s opener ‘When Saturday Comes’ digs deep into reverb and trawling strings, mimicking the feeling of anticipation in a crowd as the lights go down. Until, bursting through the calm is the album’s first single - ‘Catch You On The Way Back In’ - a blast of yowling electric guitar swiftly joined by head-banger drums. The signature vocals of frontman Fred MacPherson feel warm alongside the track’s in-your-face sound, despite being juxtaposed by its melancholy, catchy lyrics. Quintessential Spector.
‘No One Know Better’ and ‘Bad Summer’ are more similarly classic tracks by the indie giants, building compelling live instrumentation and laden with oddly meticulous details. So too is ‘Funny Way Of Showing It’ – a bite back at an underperforming lover refusing to settle for in-between – “is this a wind up, or have you made your mind up?” A cheeky guitar solo at the bridge grasps attention; choose me! the song sighs, and we’re more than happy to comply.
A sonically softer side, ‘Norwegian Air’ is a synthy delight akin to New York’s scene (CC: Black Marble), but Spector’s signature emotive lyrics remain steadfast. More electronic new waves roll in with ‘I’m Not Crying You’re Crying’ – a keyboard-heavy reflection complete with internet slang and Spector’s perfect rhyming. Interest lies here, a fresh addition to Spector’s discography as it grows in nuance.
Listeners will take a deep inhale at the beauty of ‘An American Warehouse in London’. Saving the best until last, the smattering of synths across the LP crystallise to produce what feels like the poignant end credits of a really good movie, and the perfect closer at a gig. As the protagonist reflects on this final track, so too do the listeners, left with a reverbing guitar and a wonderfully sweet taste in the mouth.
Spector is showing us the softer side of indie but still with their slap-in-the-face guitar we’ve come to know and love. It’s the kind of album best to slip into like a warm bath – fizzing electric guitar, blowing bubbles, and gazing at old flames. ‘Now or Whenever’ is more of a grow-er than a show-er but has much to show for itself.
Words: Gem Stokes
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