On listening to the first track, “Get A Grip,” I was sent back in time to the 1950’, to a beach (or perhaps you imagine a poolside) in California. The Spectrals’ debut LP, Bad Penny, is a return of ‘50s-‘60s Doo-Wop, with a touch of the more modern Indie and Punk. The guitar twangs that remind you of the Beach Boys are definitely refreshing for the current music scene, but Louis Jones, the solo artist behind the Spectrals, could have taken a bigger risk with this album.
The album is about young love – the talented Jones is only 21 years old, and Bad Penny is a reflection of ups and downs of his relationship with his high school love. His voice is charismatic, as he has that Yorkshire accent, and his groovy guitar is inviting. The songwriting is witty, and despite the more somber lyrics, most of the tracks sound uplifting. “Get A Grip” provides the most memorable Beach Boys-esque sound and is easily the best track on the album. The rest of the tracks pale in comparison. Most of the cuts, like “You Don’t Have to Tell Me” and “Confetti,” sound almost too familiar to the first track with the Surf-rock melodies and slow Jazz beat. “Big Baby” and “You Can’t Live on Love Alone” are really the only songs that feature more Rock ‘n’ Roll. “Doing Time” is just awkwardly paced and throws you off for the rest of the album.
The too-familiar melodies of most of the tracks are the biggest downside of this album. Jones is clearly brilliant, and I hope he will experiment more with his sound with his future albums. Overall, this is a good record, but perhaps the reminder of hot weather, sandy beaches and surfing came at the wrong time (for Canadians), because this album is perfect for daydreaming on the beach.
SPILL ALBUM REVIEW: SPECTRALS – BAD PENNY