Expectations might have been low for Spector in the past, but their driving force appears refreshed and refocused with their latest album.
Album Review: Spector's Enjoy it While it Lasts
Spector never really expected to be the next big thing. The sharply dressed London quintet have made quite a splash over the past 12 months, placing highly in the BBC's influential Sound of 2012 poll, then bagging a coveted spot at America's mightiest festival, Coachella. And yet, as the title of their debut album suggests, theirs is a realistic approach to the vagaries of pop stardom.
This is chiefly due to the history of their frontman Fred MacPherson, who has already suffered more career turmoil than many rock veterans. The son of one of the UK's highest-ranking civil servants, he made early waves with Les Incompetents, an erratic former school band who divided opinion dramatically. They broke up shortly after their other singer was attacked by a man in London and spent weeks in a coma.
A wilfully obtuse collective called Ox.Eagle.Lion.Man followed for MacPherson, plus a headline-grabbing romance with Bob Geldof's celebrity daughter Peaches. He then gave up bands to become an MTV presenter, only reluctantly returning to music after the new role floundered.
Expectations for Spector might have been low then, but their driving force appears refreshed and refocused with their latest album Enjoy it While it Lasts. MacPherson admitted recently that it took "six months and seven producers to make this record, and I've never taken anything more seriously in my whole life".
Those producers include the legendary pop svengali Trevor Horn and the super-hip electro-rocker Tom Vek, and their varied guidance adds much to the Spector experience. From the warped, almost ambient opening bars of True Love, this record bubbles with inventive exuberance, veering entertainingly between propulsive indie rock and quirky electronic pop.
The band have often been compared to the infuriatingly catchy pop-rockers Kaiser Chiefs, but Pulp are also a useful reference point, MacPherson echoing a young Jarvis Cocker with his wiry frame, unflattering spectacles and dry wit. "[I] heard he was your rock," he ponders on the frenetic Twenty Nothing. "Does that make me a hard place?"
Fans of more earnest rock will no doubt find Spector's geekier edges off-putting, but amid the quirky love songs there are numerous stabs at stadium-friendly material. The single Chevy Thunder is hot-rod punk-rock, all fast cars and thrashed guitars, while Lay Low should get a few lighters waving, or mobile phones at least: it's a Let it Be for the MP3 generation, if not quite so memorable.
This debut may lack that extra spark of songwriting genius, but likeable choruses abound and MacPherson is an engaging presence when in the mood. Enjoy them while they last.
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