Photo Credit: Lorenzo Garrido
As music evolves, artists are continuously looking to the past for inspiration. The Brighton/ Bristol duo, Spang Sisters, made up of bandmates Rachid and Jules, are acutely aware of the cyclical nature of music, as they openly pay tribute to their biggest influences on their eponymous, debut record Spang Sisters. Released today (21/05) from Bathtime Sounds, Spang Sisters’ own label, the album is an impressive debut from a band to watch out for. On Spang Sisters, Rachid and Jules capture a distinctly retro aesthetic, while also delivering a bedroom pop sound which is unique to today. Citing an eclectic mix of influences on the project, the band thanks musical forefathers like The Velvet Underground, Motown, Dr.Dre, and the Japanese folk band Happy End for their duo’s unique sound.
Rachid and Jules’s differing approaches to songwriting also helps the album sound fresh throughout, with Rachid saying: ‘We have quite different approaches to songwriting and recording, hence the notable schism between Jules’ powerfully catchy pop sensibilities and my more off-kilter, melancholic compositions. All in all, we are very proud of what has emerged from our time of creative reclusion and are inexplicably excited for the world to hear it as well as what lies next.’ This leads to a dynamic album, which seamlessly transitions between the seriousness on songs like ‘The Ballad of Joyce Vincent’ to the whimsically foolish and childlike, on songs like ‘Gary’s Rich Life.’ Because of this dynamism, Spang Sisters is a record that is easy to get lost in and to play over and over without even realising it. This is now my go-to recommendation for any friends looking for new music.
Starting with ‘10,645 miles,’ the album begins with a slow, reverb drenched love-song, with the bright and up-beat refrain: ‘There ain’t nothing quite like you.’ Smooth background vocals and harmonies are prominent throughout the song and hearken back to early Motown acts like The Marvelettes and The Temptations. The album then continues with another stellar love song, ‘Eddie Murphy,’ which picks up the pace and draws clear influence from funk, disco, and early RnB. Though the title, ‘Eddie Murphy,’ is clearly contemporary, the song sounds like it would be slow danced to in a movie scene set at a seventies prom. A personal favourite on the album, ‘The Ballad of Joyce Vincent’ follows the short interlude, ‘Mamu Nashu’s Libations.’ Featuring jazzy, jangly acoustic guitar chords, the lyrical subject matter on ‘The Ballad of Joyce Vincent’ completely juxtaposes its sound. Though the song’s content revolves around a corpse that went unnoticed for over two years in a north London bedsit, the song sonically remains light, upbeat, and danceable. This is why ‘The Ballad of Joyce Vincent’ perfectly transitions into ‘Gary’s Rich Life,’ a wonderfully farcical tune, which evokes both The Beach Boys' ‘Vegetables’ and Syd Barrett-era Pink Floyd. Another highlight of the album, ‘Jenny’ easily features the best guitar tone on the album, with a creamy, overdriven, and climactic guitar solo coming in around the one-minute mark. Finally, after the album’s second interlude, ‘Jamborini’s Descent,’ Spang Sisters ends with the album’s most relaxed and laid-back songs, ‘Thank you Will Shortz’ and ‘Jamborini returns for one final smackdown.’ Full of shakers, mellow synths, and ocean waves, both ‘Thank you Will Shortz’ and ‘Jamborini returns for one final smackdown’ feel like a sunny day at the beach. These songs have the perfect vibe to end an absolutely stellar indie album.
Spang Sisters is an absolute gem. The record is unafraid to embrace its musical influences, and yet remains wholly unique in its expertly crafted execution and presentation. This is a promising debut from a band that is likely to evolve to even greater musical heights in the future. For now, I look forward to seeing Spang Sisters play this impressive and exciting new material live, as they tour post-lockdown.
Photo Credit: Lorenzo Garrido