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Similar artists: The Cure, New Order, Current Joys, Beach House
Vancouver post-punk and gothic-rock band Spectres are back with their first full length project since 2016’s Utopia. The new album, aptly titled Nostalgia, bears all of Spectres’ 80’s influences proudly on its sleeve. Spectres draw from every corner of 80s alternative music, with elements of punk, new wave and synth pop, goth and deathrock all to be found on Nostalgia.
This is evidenced as early on as the first few seconds, with the track “The Head and the Heart”s glittery, chorus-laiden guitar intro. The track “When Possessed Pray” is straight out of New Order’s playbook, with a danceable bassline, sparkling rhythm guitar lines and rapid-fire Stephen Morris style drumwork; even vocalist Brian Gustavson’s singing resembles Bernard Sumner here. The following tune, gets into some more hard hitting deathrock to show their versatility with dissonant guitars, heavy drums and Gustavson’s frenetic vocals on the track “Pictures from Occupied Europe.”
“Years of Lead,” was one of two singles rolled out earlier this year before the release of Nostalgia, along with opener “The Head and the Heart.” Both songs exemplify the touch of shoegaze stylings that permeate Nostalgia, with “The Head and the Heart”s cacophonous climax, and the hazy and ethereal verses on “Years of Lead.” The vocal lines are reminiscent of The Smiths-era Morrissey, but are done a disservice by being put so far back in the mix.
This quality of the production is Nostalgia’s most damaging trait: Throughout much of the album, the vocals are drenched in reverb and hiding back in the mix behind shimmering guitars, thunderous drums and punch basslines, but are left too murky to carry the tunes. This technique can work for shoegaze acts like Slowdive or My Bloody Valentine, who build atmosphere with walls of sound. Spectres, however, get their atmosphere through layers of moving parts, but their sound is still too steeped in their influences for this technique to really distinguish this project.
The result is a tracklist that feels indistinct, and at worst, underwhelming. Despite this, Spectres have still created a host of good songs on Nostalgia. The tracks are enjoyable and unique, but have questionable staying power. What ultimately hurt it was its lack of character goth/post punk project.