Release Date: Apr 5, 2011
Record label: Captured Tracks
Genre(s): Pop/Rock, Alternative/Indie Rock, Alternative Pop/Rock
Working under the name Craft Spells, Stockton, Calif.'s Justin Vallesteros makes music for bedsitters who dream about being social. Though often addressed to a love interest either real or imagined, Idle Labor is above all a lonely album that rarely betrays its origin as a solo project. Sonically it recalls Wild Nothing it the way it mines a large swath of 1980s synth pop, but its clear emotional tenor gives it a distinguishing perspective and personality.
Stockton, CA, artist Justin Paul Vallesteros records under the moniker Craft Spells, producing a sort of soft, synthy, dreamy compendium of new wave and 80’s pop. Throughout his new album, Idle Labor, Vallesteros infuses a lyrical melancholy into his shifting, emotionally potent music. From the chorus of opening track “For the Ages” (the dour insistence of “Even though our love has died, you’re still mine”), it’s clear that no matter how dance floor-friendly and exciting the music might get, there won’t be any celebratory tracks on this one.
With a cover that’s a clear homage to Power, Corruption, & Lies, one would expect something like New Order’s bouncy electro-pop from Craft Spells’ debut album Idle Labor, and that assumption would be pretty right on. Captured Tracks is trying really hard to make us forget we’re not still living in the 80’s, releasing gem after gem of pop rock inspired by that decade. Idle Labor doesn’t fall too far from the tree, delivering an upbeat album of catchy guitar pop with lo-fi production values and plenty of drum machine and synth.