Review: “Slouch” – Spirit Club
When Spirit Club released its self-titled debut album in spring 2015, many listeners were enthralled — and for good reason. The group, which is composed of Wavves frontman Nathan Williams, his brother Joel and longtime friend Andrew Caddick, emerged as a trippy, moody California emo troupe. Their knack for gorgeous harmonies shimmered underneath the surface of a decidedly dark record.
But whereas that debut was firmly entrenched in the kind of standard indie pop and surf punk sounds that had made Wavves popular, Spirit Club has recalibrated and reemerged as one of the most exciting pop acts out right now, thanks to their sophomore LP, Slouch.
In the interest of complete transparency, I was contracted to write the press release for Slouch over the summer. However, this means I have had several months to sit on the album and assess its merits. What has clearly emerged is a fully formed vision that posits Spirit Club as the emo Beach Boys.
The album opens with twinkling xylophone and lush, layered vocal harmonies, elements that turn up time and time again throughout Slouch, but always to thrilling effect. The first real song of the album, ‘Fast Ice,’ is essentially just a poppy Wavves song, but this is not a knock. The song’s real merit comes in its remarkable production, which was performed by Grammy Award-winning producer Dennis Herring, who previously worked with Nathan Williams on his much-lauded 2010 record King Of The Beach.
The album really flies into gear on the next track, ‘Your Eyes Tell Lies.’ A pounding and ominous beat propels the song forward before a video gamey-sounding steel drum ushers in an over-the-top, campy Beach Boys-style chorus. “Your eyes tell lies,” sings the group as soaring “weee-eeee-eeee-eeee” vocals fly through the background.
The formula is continued on another album highlight, ‘Room To Run.” This track features the band’s vocal interplay at its very best. The song, written principally by Caddick, has an epic feel. The meaty timpanis, the doo-wop style vocals and soaring falsettos all come to form one of the record’s noteworthy moments.
Slouch’s strongest track, of which there are many, comes just after the album’s midway point with ‘Lately I Haven’t Been Sleeping.’ Penned by Joel Williams, the song features an excellent take on the quiet verse, bold chorus formula. The track thrives in its downtempo rhythm, evoking the best of vocal groups like The Flamingos or The Cadillacs and, of course, Beach Boys’ songs like ‘Don’t Talk (Put Your Head On My Shoulder).’
Spirit Club has almost completely reinvented itself for Slouch and the end result is exhilarating. The Beach Boys remain one of pop’s most popular touchstones, but when you mix in the magic of the long overlooked vocal groups and the feverish work ethic of the three musicians involved in this project, you get something fresh, vibrant and poignant. Slouch is a must-listen.