Saturday, May 7, 2011

Craft Spells: Idle Labor

     Craft Spells are a synth pop, revivalist group based in Seattle, Idle Labor being their debut record. The essence of this album is one that feels very much stuck in the eighties, with catchy drums, synthesisers and love-sick lyrics, glammed up in a bedroom recorded feel. Although there is slight reverb dusting the vocals, the production is otherwise brilliant, lacking the obvious recording flaws seen in similar records. The simple guitar melodies and rhythm to the songs is also executed well.
     The problem I immediately felt with this eleven track record though, was that although the sound is good and I wasn't throwing up at it, there seemed an absence of originality. Anyone who has listened to music from the eighties, particularly New Order's later discography, won't be blown away by the sound on this album. Even as a revivalist group, there is, I'm afraid to say, bands that do it better, from Beach House to Beach Fossils and Wild Nothing. I was unfortunately underwhelmed by what I heard here.
     Having said that, if you enjoy that summery sound, then Craft Spells aren't the worst band to listen to. The production on this album is fantastic, which kept me listening, and the catchy drums and guitar kept my foot tapping. Justin Vallesteros, the frontman of Craft Spells, effortlessly weaves these great pop tunes, guitar and base with his floaty, airy voice that matches the sound he is trying to produce perfectly.
     There isn't much else to say, really. 'Party Talk', with it's tinkling melodies and well-used synthesised sounds was the stand-out track for me, but even that had the feel of many other eighties songs. I think I'll just cut to the conclusion now, 'cos I feel I'm repeating myself over and over again. Idle Labor is a simple, summer-pop record, with sounds that aren't groundbreaking or particularly original. The music, despite this, works well with the vocals to create a soothing collection of tracks. The production is fantastic as well, but all these factors aren't enough to pull away from the fact that I've heard it all before. A must for fans of the genre, but for me, this album became bland and uninterested after the first listen.