When a band hits a 10 year anniversary, its a good time to celebrate an existence and SPC ECO mark that with their new album “Calm” which continues their chilled indie pop vibe with catchy melodies, and you can still feel the DNA from Dean Carcia’s previous duo Curve flowing through its veins.
Opener “Out of Sight” is a superb track. It’s got that Sneaker Pimps college pop rock beat to it that was so good in the late ninties and its verse is mega catchy. Rose’s vocals alternate between an ethereal siren and a hushed lower tone that is like honey to the ear. Her voice is a constant caress throughout the album, but here, and in the slow motion dystopian synth ballad “All the Voices” – it shows a real range. “All the Voices” really reminds me of Manalay if that band ever dared to pick up a guitar.
Guitar is the biggest addition to Calm as a whole as if anything, this album is slightly more plugged than any of SPC ECO’s others. “Waking Up Again” feels early Curve-ian, and “Rising Up” in a dark noir rock track that broods in a more industrial way. The raging guitar feedback is channeled into the melody whilst Rose mainly whails throughout the track and is pitch bent into melodies and hooks. This is anything but calm. It is great though. Quieter tracks “All I Had” and “Pearls” push towards a light shoegaze ballad move, with the latter in paricular capturing that echoing lost teenage angst vibe that so many rich kid drama shows love to have as a soundtrack to their crying sessions. The quieter and darker tracks are where this album comes alive. “Who Are You Now” is a stunning track with low, twisted strings and synth bass lines creating a seedy but haunting melody to Rose’s angelic higher register whispered singing. It’s really cinematic and I can see it in so many film scenes.
The closing third of the album makes a marked shift to the aforementioned calmer side of SPC ECO. “Ghosts”, “When It Moves” and “Get Lost” feel like a trilogy as each track grows and expands its sound palette from a claustrophobic depression out into an airy and spacious finale across the trio. They work so well as a set and then “Over” feels very much like an end credits hurrah that brings back the big drums and more electronic rock feel. The album actually closes out with my other favourite track. “Hours” is the haunted track on the album. Pushing between two minor chords, a pulsating underbelly beat and lots of guitar atmospherics – it’s like a warning call that everything has not ended quite so well. It’s the darkest and most miserable and brooding track on the album – and it works so well. More of that please!
It’s also the shortest track on the album. If I were to have one critism of the band, its that most of the tracks are five or six minutes long, but feel like they could be tighter and more impactful if there were four. SPC ECO has always done long tracks though, so I’m used to their style – but if they done a retrospective release in the future – doing down a radio edit version for some tracks would be an interesting way to look at things. “Calm” however, is a great addition to their catalogue and shows why after 10 years together – SPC ECO still have it.
Recommended Track : Who Are You Now