Review: Spector - Enjoy It While It Lasts

...might not end up on your desert-island list but there’s a good chance it can end up on your list of “guilty pleasures”...
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Spector Enjoy It While It Lasts

Recently, my wife and I took a trip to Paris to see the lovely Florence and the Machine in concert. From the start we knew that it was going to be a trip with musical theme since not only were we going to see my wife’s favorite band live but I was also commissioned by a magazine to do a cover story profiling Jazz pianist Jason Domnarski, whose music I had reviewed before. We knew there was going to be music at the heart of the trip but we were surprised at how much of it we encountered in just a few days. One of the great things about seeing a band play live is getting acquainted to new music in the form of the opening act (and I can’t help but wonder: if we had been at one of the U2 concerts that Florence and the gang were opening a good while before becoming known in their own right, how would my wife have perceived being exposed to the music she now loves so dearly for the first time in a “live” environment). 

That night, at the Zenith, Florence and the band were being ushered in by English indie rock act Spector. I have to admit that, being very particular (read: a snob) concerning the music I usually listen to, on first sight I wasn’t really impressed with the band that was being led into “battle” by slender bespectacled, suit-wearing vocalist Frederick Macpherson. Here’s the great thing about being exposed to new music at a live gig: a pretentious snob like myself can’t just turn it off muttering “Nah, it’s not my style…”. And what a fortunate thing that is as, only a few minutes into their performance, I found myself rather enjoying their sound, so much so that, when I got home a few days later I started looking up the band and playing their debut record Enjoy It While It Lasts various times all the while dismissing it as a “guilty pleasure.” Well, “guilty pleasure” or not, two months removed from the concert I still play it a few times a week.

Enjoy It While It Lasts starts with "True Love (For Now)" and a catchy keyboard tune with Macphearson giving the listener a taste of his characteristically witty songwriting:

 

I tasted a hundred friends of mine on your lips

I never saw a single sunset out on that strip

If it was love

If it was love

Then let me know

 

Our hearts are destroyed but our bodies survive

Condemned to live for the rest of our lives

If it was love

If it was love

Then let me know 

From that moment on the song as well as the record as a whole explode with energy and catchy melodies driven by the lead singer’s rather pleasant voice (most of the time) and charismatic presence (all of the time) backed-up by a capable young band and delivering lyrics that are laden with a lot of humor and a bittersweet self-deprecation:

 

Once in a while, not twice in a while

When heaven breaks I see you smile

I know it hurts, I know it hurts

I know, (woah woah woah-oh)

 

I'm not what you want

You fell in love with an idea

And I was never never never never never enough

Tonight I'm riding out of here

 

You know you could've been here, honey

Sitting by my right-hand side

Tonight, I'll take your father's car

And drive, drive, drive

 

And whatever I never could ever let you go (Let you go)

I'm a lover above a ba-beating heart below (Heart below)

I'm riding I'm riding as fast as this car goes

Chevy Thunder, Chevy, Chevy Thunder

The record continues with fast-paced instant charmers like the aforementioned "Chevy Thunder" (songs like "Twenty-Nothing" and "Celestine"   ) intermingled with very decent and sometimes even mature ballads like "Grey Shirt & Tie", "Never Fade Away", "No Adventure" and "Lay Low", the latter, in my opinion, the best of the bunch.

When Freddie sings “You know it’s been a while since you danced like you used to/Made me laugh or smile like you used to/You don’t light me up like you used to” even the most pretentious listener, like Pitchfork’s Laura Snapes who called the record “a hot mess”, must surely feel at least a slight melancholy sense of “I know what you mean fella”. In fact the entire record, which at first glance might come off as stuck in the vibe of teenage-years-gone-by, is held together by the “we all know that feeling” approach never very far away from being cheesy but always rescued from a “cheesy” fate by Macpherson’s intelligent writing. And, since every (rock) band needs an anthem, Spector has produced one as well, in the shape of “Friday Night, Don’t Ever Let It End”, a track that is destined to become a crowd-pleaser in time, a la Florence and the Machine’s “Dog Days Are Over”:

Give it all up, the sun has set

No one's coming to rescue you

 

Give it all up, the sun has set

You know that guy is wrong for you

I thought it was the weekend

But where are all my friends?

 

It's Friday night, don't ever,

don't ever let it end.  

Overall, although it’s not my usual cup of tea, I was very pleased with and entertained by this record. Perhaps the very fact that I don’t eat, sleep and breathe indie rock made me appreciate and enjoy it even more, giving the record, for me personally a fresh feel that it might not have had otherwise. I can’t know if other listeners would have the same feeling toward it but I do know I would recommend it to everyone for at least a try. It might not end up on your desert-island list but there’s a good chance it can end up on your list of “guilty pleasures” for a lengthy period of time.