Album Review – Moth Boys / Spector

Spector are a band who appeared around the time of the wave of British indie revivalists who sputtered out fairly quickly. Their contemporaries: Palma Violets, Peace, Swim Deep have either released quite awful second albums or are gearing up to release that hyped second album which will undoubtedly fall short of expectations. However, Spector weren’t exactly hyped up in the first place. They appeared, released an average album, and fell off the map. Their sound, not too different from the first album, consists of a New Order-ish electronic and rock mash-up, with Fred Macpherson’s vocals which sound remarkably similar to Justin Young from the Vaccines. Moth Boys isn’t offensively bland, it’s somehow worse. Like Happy People and Danger In The Club before it, Moth Boys fails to rekindle the energy of the indie revival, proving that that spark had little substance to begin with.

If Spector had just made a boring album, Moth Boys might have been ok. But they actually went for it, which is commendable. ‘Decade of Decay’ sounds like a Strokes off-cut, but the electronic elements remind me of Angles, never the best reference point. The song also showcases Macpherson’s best, worst lyrics. It’s laughably funny, but not in a good way. ‘You say it’s been a decade of decay’ or ‘All we ever wanted was someone to go home’, not to mention a worrying ‘Need a pretty girl / try and take her home’ before he hopefully corrects himself with ‘Need a pretty girl / but it’s all wrong’. The same lyrical mess appears on ‘Bad Boyfriend’, where Macpherson dips into good old self-loathing, admitting he’s ‘worse than a bad boyfriend’. Some of the choice lyrics are ‘My battery’s ten percent / let’s generate content’ or ‘Your technology, your pills / I can’t take you higher’. The song’s instrumentation is positioned as a pop song, but just sounds like an Imagine Dragons offcut.

Of course it’s not all bad. The bassline and drums on ‘Cocktail Party / Heads Interlude’ shows Devonte Hynes’ influence showing and offers something beyond bland stadium rock. ‘All The Sad Young Men’ is the band’s New Order inspiration most predominantly and if they pursued this sound they might begin to carve out their own originality, minus Macpherson’s lyrics. Even his most personal lyrics – the references to drugs and broken relationships – are ham-fisted and don’t do anything for the themes, which is a shame because it sounds like Macpherson’s actually got something to say. It’s just that when he does say it, he says something like ‘If you weren’t on my mind / I’d have no mind to be on’.

A lot of the instrumentation is just plain out-of-place. The buzz-cut guitar solo on ‘Lately It’s You’ doesn’t fit, neither does the 80s synth solo on ‘Believe’. The other instrumentation is unsure whether it wants to be an electro-pop or an indie-rock album. It wouldn’t matter if the two genres were separated, but often they clash mid-song like on ‘Lately It’s You’. There’s not else much to say for the non-vocal parts of the music, other than it’s exactly what to expect from a cross between Palma Violets and Swim Deep.

Moth Boys is the last dying gasp of the wave of indie that swept across Britain a couple of years ago. Now, a lot of the bands have got older and realised they only had one album in them. Moth Boys is the realisation of that, and the pursuit of the minor success they found on their first outing. Spector are ambitious, though. They make stadium rock for small clubs, sort of like a modern day U2 with the same amount of nerdy un-coolness despite their affection occasionally for Strokes rhythms. I don’t think anyone should have to listen to Spector, or any of their contemporaries, bar a few new Swim Deep tracks (which have been a vast improvement on their first tracks). Anyone trying to revive mid-00s Razorlight/Kaiser Chiefs/Kooks sounds should remember that the same first-album success, second-album failure hit them too.