Spector are back, rather quicker than they have been in the past, with ‘proper’ album number four. This follows on from 2022’s Top 40 album Now Or Whenever which we had to wait seven long years for, (give or take a compilation of EP’s), but there’s a reason for the quicker turnaround of this record.
They wanted to work again with Dimitri Tikovoi, who produced their Ex-Directory EP, but he only had thirteen days spare in his schedule. And being up against the clock seems to suit them, as this is probably the most focused and grown-up record in their ever-growing repertoire, it showing no signs of being rushed in any way. The album also apes its predecessor in mood, with the early ferocious indie-pop energy of their 2012? debut, the classic Enjoy It While It Lasts long gone in life’s rearview mirror.
The pop bangers such as ‘Chevy Thunder’ and ‘Reeperbahn’ have dissipated on each record that has followed as maturity has set in, and in this particular case, it starts with the album title itself, a cry towards ageing, the passing of time, but luckily their way with words has stayed intact and pushed further forward as time has inevitably marched on.
The easiest career path comparison to make is with Arctic Monkeys, each album less frenetic and more reflective than the last, with all of them venturing miles away from the debut. But, if the last record was grown up this one is the old age album. They sound like they’ve had regrets and quite a few.
The record starts with two of the three previously released tracks from the album, ‘The Notion’ which sets the tone for the following 10 tracks with a chugging melody and frontman Fred McPherson’s clever wordplay to the fore. The almost topically titled ‘Driving Home For Halloween’ is more instant, with McPherson spitting out rhymes as the youth would put it, almost rapping his way through it, over a thumping drum beat.
As with the aforementioned Arctics, people still want all of the undiluted brashness of the early days but there’s far more now going on underneath the surface, a subtlety, a control. On a side note, how the sheer amount of thoughtfully reflective slower songs will affect their upcoming tour will be interesting to see, their previous shows being also built on frenzy.
Following this duo of singles, the record remains on a reflective bent as the bluesy Gene-like ‘Never Have Before’ and the distorted vocally ‘Not Another Weekend’, which as as loud as they get, with some excellent references to the mundanities of living (‘Shaun Williamson’s Mustang Sally’ a particular favourite) before concluding “we could see our lives flash right before our eyes and we wouldn’t even notice.”
On a few tracks here, it can at times seem that they are edging towards perfecting a specific Spector formula, a slow melodic tune, over which rhyming couplets abound, which could get a little samey in the wrong hands. However, when they take themselves out of these prospective comfort zones and they hit on a great theme, they are the masters of executing it, such as the funky brushed drums that welcome us into ‘Pressure’, which you could easily mistake for an out-take from their last album.
The penultimate two tracks ‘Room With A Different View’, and especially the title track, show a sadness and a lyrical light touch (‘Here comes the early nights/Feels the end is in sight’) point to where Spector could end up on future albums, almost a torch band, and it feels like these two should be the closing numbers.
Instead, they throw in a curveball by ending on the (relatively) upbeat ‘All Of The World Is Changing’, which pulls of the magic trick of sounding like both the sound of now and like it could have fitted in on any of the previous three records, so a fitting conclusion for a record showing a band at the top of their hypnotic powers.
They once said that nostalgia isn’t what it was, but looking back has served them very well here.