Spector - Moth Boys - Albums - Reviews - Soundblab

Spector - Moth Boys

by Rich Morris Rating:4 Release Date:2015-08-21

Someone in Spector’s record company has very little faith in Fred Macpherson’s band. Having been through the ‘next big thing’ wringer with their first album, Enjoy It While It Lasts, Spector are finally back with long-player number two, pushed out during one of the slowest weeks in UK music.

So, we can surmise, Spector’s record company have so little faith in a band who previously scooped up column inches in all the right places, it believes the only way to ensure this record gets the publicity needed to gain a toe-hold on the charts is to bypass, as much as possible, any serious competition. I know UK guitar music is currently in the deepest hole it’s been in for many years, but still, such an event makes you stop and ask, well, how did we get here?

I mean, it’s not like Moth Boys is uncommercial. Tracks such as ‘Believe’ and ‘Don’t Make Me Try’ come slathered in a thick gloop of radio-friendly synths and processed beats. They’ve got hooky yet undemanding choruses. True, Macpherson’s wannabe-Curtis baritone sounds a bit, well, 2005, but there’s nothing here to scare the drive-time listeners away.

‘Cocktail Party/Heads Interlude’ and ‘Kyoto Garden’ are even better, pulling off the kind of ‘existential crisis lyric smothered in smooth 80s soul’ trick that Hurts have been singularly failing at for a good five years. ‘Lately It’s You’ is such a slickly-produced ballad, you can imagine Rihanna singing it. ‘Bad Boyfriend’, meanwhile, could even be a Take That track if you stripped away the token angry guitar.

Macpherson chucks in a few lyrics about how achingly vacuous life as an achingly cool London hipster is (“Everyone’s using” on ‘Using’; “Those American kids and vegan smack-heads you call your friends/ They’re not your friends” on ‘West End’), but really, Moth Boys is relentlessly, and I suspect consciously shallow. This is make-or-break time for Spector. You can’t keep being the next big thing forever.

Ultimately, Moth Boys tells you everything about the state of mainstream guitar music in the UK in 2015. It tells you that it’s basically fucked. That even if a band of cool, handsome, white young men make all the right sounds, repeatedly, they still won’t get a big hit and, what’s more, even the industry that used to fall over itself to spunk vast wads of cash at such bands no longer believes they can have a hit.

So that’s where we’re at, people. And that’s what I hear when I listen to Moth Boys. It’s a sad album, it sounds like a damp, lonely, drab afternoon, and in that sense it feels perfect for this country right now.

Like New Labour, UK indie kept selling out until it had nothing left that the establishment wanted to buy, but still it keeps coming back, hanging round people of power and influence, like hopelessly addicted junkies or fucking zombies hanging round a shopping mall, gazing mournfully at the Razorlight records clogging up the bargain bins.

It makes me sad, but then it makes me angry, and I think, fuck you lot. You would-be/has-been indie-rock stars. Like our politicians, you were supposed to represent us, you were supposed to make things better, a little less painful for the rest of us. But instead, you sold your soul and then sold us a lie, about how your success was an achievement for all of us, of how empty, bombastic triumphalism could stand in for substance and meaning if we all just joined in and sang the same song.

And now look where we are. Now the big-hitters have left the stage, look at the faceless drones who would take their place. See how confused they are when they realise that the world has changed, that the crown they thought was theirs by right is something they have to fight and struggle for, only they don’t know how, because they were focus-grouped from the moment they started their careers, and they don’t stand a chance in a cut-throat world where their opponents have real claws.

And that’s where we are now. We’ve got Cameron and Ed Sheeran. We’ve got Farage and The X Factor. It should’ve been so much better, and if there’s one thing Moth Boys does well, it’s sum up that feeling, despite itself. 

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