The Spectres – Utopia (Sabotage Records)
Artist: The Spectres
Label: Sabotage Records
Release: March 2016
You may be aware that there are two bands called Spectres. If not, then let me school you quickly – there’s one from England that sounds menacing and creepy, and there’s another from Canada who also sound menacing and creepy. Easy to mix up? Not really. The band from England has a much heavier sound, and as someone with a teetering obsession with them, I’m pretty sure they are one of the best bands in England. But this isn’t about them, this is about the Spectres from Canada and their new album, Utopia.
Post-punk is a term that gets lobbed around a lot. Some use it to sound cool. Others use it because they really are post-punk. I’m not someone who cares for music genres, I just want something really noisy and quite eerie. There are a handful of bands that I love that are the exact blueprint for post-punk. It’s safe to say that Spectres are one of them. Their new record is about to release and it oozes very early sounds of the Cure, Josef K and possesses a chilling atmosphere that can be found in the likes of Bauhaus and Sisters Of Mercy.
By definition, utopia means, an imagined place or state of things in which everything is perfect. This is a really strong name for a record. It’s a name that makes you assume what you are about to hear is possibly gentle and serene. Is this record gentle or serene? To some, no. To people like me, it really is. This is the kind of record I would play when everything around me seems a bit crap and a wave of disappointment is about to head my way. It can soften the blow of disappointment and is a record that makes you feel at ease again. If unconventional is your thing, then you’ll probably fall in love with this record as fast as I have.
“Figures In The Sand” is one of the most euphoric moments on the record. The vocals sound big and this rush that hits you really makes you get behind the band, and into the mind of the singer. You can sense the urgency so beautifully. You feel as if you’re lost somewhere, and this record is what will drag you out. I’m all for records that have a wealth of tension to them. The kind of tension that’s found in “the Birthday Party” tells you something obscure is about to happen, and you’re going to love it. Utopia is nothing short of perfect, and I feel as if it is one of those records that will make listeners feel as if they have gone back in time and they’re stood in Berlin in some back-alley dive bar waiting for something exciting to happen.
I know it’s oh so clichéd of me to claim that I cannot pick a favourite song from Utopia, but I just think that this record sums up everything we should love about music in eight songs. For the most part, I want the record to last longer than it does, but that’s the sheer beauty of it. Spectres leave you wanting more, even if others may think you’ve had more than enough. Indulge as much as you like in this record. It is made to be played late at night while everyone else is tucked up in bed.
Do something to this record, even if it is as trivial as getting on the night bus with people who have clearly no concept of how much alcohol they should consume before they vomit everywhere. Watch the city pass by you with the streetlights outlining your way home. Play it loudly in your ear, and maybe find a new way home.
Sometimes you hear a band or record and you just know that they are something you need to witness live. There are a number of bands that I love that have this quality about them. When I first saw the Spectres live it really reinforced what the band was about, and why they became so important to me.
I get the exact same feeling with this record. Sure you can play it alone, through headphones but there are moments on the record, such as “Crosses And Wreathes”, that pretty much make you believe this HAS to be witnessed live. Something always changes when you see a band in concert, and it is always for the better. In this case, Spectres are no exception. Their songs are made to be played in creepy dive-bars as loud as possible to a crowd are caked in sweat that isn’t necessarily there’s.
A lot of great music has come out and is set to come out this year, and I’m fairly certain that you can name Spectres as one of the highlights of 2016. The dark, brooding and intense feel of the record was evidently created with a strong sense of passion and purpose. It is a fascinating listen. Although it is only eight songs long, for me, it is the ideal record.