Out today, check out Spectrals’ second album, Sob Story.
Enjoy classic influences and modern lovelorn lyrics by Yorkshire’s Jones’ brothers, Louis and Will. Below, we feature a track by track description of the album, by the band for you to soak up as well.
1. Let Me Cave In
"I played this song live on my own on the first night of the American tour we did with Cults, Will didn’t get his Visa in time so I played solo for the first two or three nights and decided I would play some of the new songs I had for another record. About half way through the tour we stayed in LA with Bobb from Best Coast and did a demo of this in his garage, that was when it started to properly come together in my head, I recall that it seemed to set the tone for my lyrics for the rest of the record and I knew it would be the opening track. When we were doing the album version with JR, we left off a couple of the guitar tracks I had previously in favour of this grinding industrial noise that we nearly blew the monitors recording late one evening."
2. Blue Whatever
"This was the first song I wrote for the record, by this point I was fully infatuated with Nick Lowe’s albums, my Dad had always talked about his stuff so I was familiar with it in the context of Elvis Costello, who is my top guy, but I really went for his music while we were touring “Bad Penny" and I can’t remember a time when I didn’t listen to him now! When we were doing this in the studio, JR had Jon Anderson, who played on the GIRLS records, come in and play lead guitar, this is one of the ones he really added to, it was ace to have a real guitar player around, he recorded some stuff I definitely would never have thought to, I love his guitar solo here, straight from the school of Noel Gallagher.
"I wrote this in my new house and it started out really slow and bare, I wanted it to sound like “Tugboat" by Galaxie 500 which is one of my favourite songs. That didn’t last very long, when me and Will came to record a demo of it I decided it would be “The Stone Roses meets Tom Petty", I am always coming up with stupid ideas like this and telling them to Will but I actually think on some level that it is a good way to go about writing, obviously I never completely nail the sounds I’m shooting for and I end up with something I can pass of as my own. I love how this song turned out, it’s my favourite bit of guitar playing I’ve done on a record, JR set it up going through a Leslie speaker. I enjoyed layering up backing vocals, I never really did that before. I called this song Karaoke because I got into Karaoke when we were in New York and I wanted to the record to be like Karaoke, me singing over all these different types of song, I don’t want to be militant about sound anymore, I’m not sure how many of these records I’m going to get to do so I might as well do whatever I like on them"
4. Sob Story
"I think this might be the best song I’ve written, I hope that doesn’t read arrogant, it’s certainly not a great song in the grand scheme of things. I chipped away at this one over the course of about 3 months and there were times when I was close to ditching it altogether, I had the first half of it written as a sort of poem or short story and then I spent a long time whittling that down into different verses. I was trying to fashion a sort of country and western song but I really only wanted the feeling from those kind of songs, that “last orders at the bar type" sentiment, I’m not interested in making some sort of parody, affecting the accent and all that, I just try to drag all this different coloured music into my own sad world. I think this is the first time I’ve talked about religion in a song, I am romantic to a silly extent and I am disposed to believing in all sorts of things that there is absolutely no proof for but not Jesus and his Dad, I just don’t like the story that much, not compared to Harry Potter or something, that said, I can see why people find comfort in it, and that is what I talk about in the song, I am not sure that it matters if it’s real or not. One time I was walking home from the pub a bit worse for wear and I saw the Virgin Mary statue in the church gardens, all lit up and It felt like a vision and I was touched and I could of wept. I knew then that it was the beer and the lighting and the setting but It seemed for a moment like much more than just the sum of that and if that is how other people have felt, then it is dead easy to see how the religion thing has gotten to be so big. Perhaps I am asking rather a lot for you to get all this from the song, I hope it doesn’t just sound like I’m preaching."
5. Milky Way
This came out of a deep studio session that went on until half 5 in the morning. We started with a really straight pop song but JR worked up all this beautiful noise whilst I was playing through the chords in the live room, he hadn’t sent any of it to my headphones so when I got up and went into the control room and heard what he had done I was floored. I seem to remember he thought I wouldn’t like it but I was made up! We ended up putting electric sitars and all sorts on it. There is noises on this that I don’t even recall having anything to do with. I don’t think this is psychedelic but it is druggy, I like how it slips in and out of been a pop song, all credit to JR for that. I got Will to do that drum bit at the beginning because I desperately want to have songs on Sky Sports adverts and I want to go on Soccer AM.
6. Friend Zone
This is hard to talk about and I think it is hard to listen to, this and a couple of other songs had to sound frail and have this weeping pedal steel, almost like another vocal on the album. It was a big deal to have a pedal steel player come and play on one of my records, to me the sound of those things is like a shorthand for “sad" and a thing they have on proper studio albums, I was thinking how I could have the songs sound more sad and knew I had to get a pedal steel in. The airline lost my suitcase on the way to America the first time I flew there and I used some of the compensation money to pay the player to come to the studio on the second time I was there. The title of this is a really quite obvious play on the song from Toy Story by Randy Newman, that film is a one of my favourite things ever.
I’ve never really done a big dumb rock song before, that is what I was trying for here, a pop song with heavy guitars, the chorus is inspired by blink-182 and New Found Glory and the verses are more of a Stones or Tom Petty thing but it’s all in there! The lyrics are about a dream I had that a limousine was parked up outside my bathroom window waiting to pick me up, I thought it was a good image to have in a Rock ‘N Roll song, I’ve never even been in a Limousine, it just seemed romantic to me, that if you missed someone on a night a limo would fetch you and take you to them without you having to ask. I love all the backwards guitar on the end of this ! I wrote a lot of this record with my dad’s car in mind, classic radio rock for long drives.
8. Something To Cry About
This was another of the ones me and Will did a demo of with Bobb. I think this an example of the straighter sound I wanted for this record, no layering up of sound for the sake of it, just a basic pop rock feeling. I love all the abstraction but I wanted to see what I could do without reverb and all that, just testing myself, ducking away from the things that you would probably expect to hear from if you’d read a Spectrals press release or whatever, not trying to be contrary or anything, I just wanted to push on, try and be a songwriter. I reference the theme tune from the TV show “Peep Show" in my lyrics for this. Those little nods to things really make records for me.
9. A Heartbeat Behind
Another rocker this one, I was really influenced by Dave Edmunds guitar playing this time round and was trying to cop some of those Country and Rockabilly licks he does, especially on the Rockpile record “Seconds Of Pleasure" which is a big record for me. He seems to like to mimic the pedal steel guitar. This was the last song I put together for the record and it pushed out a few I’d already got bored of, I finished it the day before we left for San Francisco. I’d had the riff for ages but it never felt like a proper song and then the chorus just seemed to hit me that afternoon, chords, lyrics, the lot. I never write like that really, I usually stew over the lyrics for ages then try and bolt them onto various sets of chords I have. I do remember I’d been listening to a lot of Big Star that week.
10. Keep Your Magic Out Of My House
This is an old song that I never really felt like I did a good recording of, it never sat right with me so I had another go at it. We have played this live a lot so I knew I could still get behind it and I’ve gotten better at singing it I think. I knew it must of meant a lot to me because I can’t stand all the other early songs I did, I hope I haven’t spoilt it for any of the people who liked it the first time around. In the studio we watched Glitter Band and Slade videos on Youtube and took those as our reference for this, we wanted those big caveman glam drums and the heavy metal guitars, a lot of great Pop music came out of all that. Jon Anderson played a great T-Rex style guitar bit at the end.
The lyrics for this one, and a lot of the others really, are pretty wimpy, but I kept running into this sort of poisonous idea that a meaningful relationship is supposed to be somehow turbulent and “rocky" and that there ought to be an ongoing battle between two lovers for the upper hand, I dispute that. I’m not passing comment on other people, the song is selfish like all my other songs, that was just what set me off with this one. I do think love is hard enough without all that. The more I think about I have a go at myself a lot more on this record, I think it’s healthy considering I’ve written a lot of songs about someone else and for the most part I present an entirely one sided view of what is definitely a two way thing (L-U-V), the first line of this is perhaps the best example of me trying to speak to that and even it out a bit, “I’m pathetic, you can’t throw that back at me ‘cause I’ve said it"
12. In A Bad Way
This was my go to bit of guitar whenever I picked one up and sat on the sofa, I was trying to make it sound like the bit I really love from the “Hook" soundtrack but I’m not sure I ever got there with it. JR made it into a weird circus organ dirge. It’s like a little mantra, a play on words and it just sees the record out. I like tagging these weird little pieces of music on the end of an album, I look at them as though they are the credits, like on a film.
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