Release Date: Oct 25, 2011
Record label: Slumberland
Genre(s): Pop/Rock, Alternative/Indie Rock, Alternative Pop/Rock, Indie Pop, Noise Pop
If you were a committed enough blog-miner in 2009 to have discovered Best Coast's early singles when they were first posted, chances are high that you discovered England's Spectrals the same way. Early tracks from the now 21-year-old Louis Jones similarly mixed 1950s and 60s doo-wop and pop with a modern indie rock mentality. Dense, lo-fi textures and hummable hooks left his work rich in color and personality, and the gritty walls of sound were decidedly punk rock.
Sparkling yet gauzy, Bad Penny is simultaneously breezy and ghostly, evoking pleasant recognition of—and nostalgia for—a dead pop sound that never really existed. Spectrals (known as 21-year-old Heckmondwike, England native Louis Jones in his daily life) politely acknowledges his debt to pop formalists like the Ronettes and Elvis Costello, and is keen to knit lounge music, doo-wop, and laid-back soul into concise pop nuggets that detail the ups-and-downs of his relationship with his girlfriend. One need not dread that this album’s hazy production is acting as a smokescreen to mask any shortcomings Jones might harbor as a songwriter or performer; his tunes would be just as fetching if recorded with state-of-the-art technology circa 1970.
Twenty-one is rather a young age at which to write an album about heartbreak – but if the results are as promising as the debut full-length by Yorkshireman Louis Jones, aka [a]Spectrals[/a], then the more life-crushing decimations of young-blossomed relationships the better, we say. It all turned out OK in the end, though, we hear – Louis is apparently now with the girl that all the songs on ‘[b]Bad Penny[/b]’ are written about, back when his heart was shakier. The fallout that remains, though, is an album full of the kind of glisteningly downbeat jaunts that feels familiar from [a]Alex Turner[/a]’s Shadow Puppetry and, in particular, the scintillatingly heart-wrenching solo soundtrack he released earlier this year for [b]Submarine[/b].
Louis Jones, the 21-year-old young man behind Spectrals, couldn’t look any less svelte in appearance. His tousled, cinnamon hair and pasty skin depict an introverted Yorkshireman pining for escape, looking outwards to the classical sounds of Western pop with cordial admiration. So any initial thought may imply that Jones doesn’t have the form associated with teen idol worship, but the fact he’s always front and center in every promotional video should indicate he’s essentially portraying what it means to have swagger in his niche – awkwardly dreamy, conspicuously uninterested, and coolly feigning to strum his baby (ahem, guitar).
After a couple of singles that were fuzzily lo-fi attempts at building a Wall of Sound, Spectrals quickly shored up their sound by ditching the fuzz and trying little tricks like playing in tune and layering in washes of synth. On the band’s (who is essentially a young U.K. resident named Louis Jones doing everything but drumming) debut for Slumberland, old-school dream pop producer Richard Formby lends a stabilizing hand, and the sound the two create is a slick and easy to swallow one that wouldn’t scare off a fan of Prefab Sprout.
Music is cyclical. I think we all know that. Certain sounds and styles disappear, only to re-emerge decades later. All young bands are in thrall to the former greats. The past is always in vogue. This is a generalisation, of course, but it seems a reasonable place to begin when discussing Bad Penny ….
Terrific stuff from a young Yorkshireman in a Morrissey-ish mould. Lou Thomas 2011 Explaining why you like this album may cause problems. It’s been made by 21-year-old Louis Jones, who looks a young Mick Hucknall after a fortnight of pies and regrets, and all the songs are about the relationship Jones has had with his girlfriend since his schooldays.
With the release of its debut album, Bad Penny (Slumberland), Spectrals channels ’50s-’60s doo-wop and mixes it up with flavors of indie pop, creating a release full of pleasantly nostalgic love songs. The man behind Spectrals, 21-year-old Yorkshire-native Louis Jones, admits that love songs are the kind he favors. Jones found inspiration from childhood memories of listening to the Rolling Stones, Elvis Costello and the Ronettes, and his love for love songs shines through on all 11 tracks of this album.