Spookyland - Beauty Already Beautiful

by Steve Ricciutti Rating:6.5 Release Date:2016-05-06

At some point I have had to come to grips with the fact that everything new sounds like something else I’ve already heard. I guess that means I’m old but not necessarily wrong. Yet, when it comes to bringing objectivity to bear on such matters, it’s crucial to look beyond the obvious and not let cynicism keep me from hearing something new with an open mind.  

The new album from Sydney, Australia’s Spookyland “Beauty Always Beautiful” had me initially dismissive until I dug in a bit. In the end, it is a captivating mix of sounds and styles, atmospheric, heartland rock, and stoner 90s shoegaze echo, all narrated, for better or worse, by the reedy twang of the lead singer Marcus Gordon, a guy whose voice is like a mix of Dylan’s wordsmith whine and fellow Aussie Peter Garrett’s angry down-under snarl.

Starting off in a rather unusually underwhelming fashion, “Abuse” invites the listener aboard a wave of strings that carry the song all the way to the other shore, incorporating the album title in verses of lovely poetic lyrics.  “Prophet” is another moody piece that washes over you delicately but has Gordon rapping about political issues behind, mixed low in the murky dream, sort of ruining the mood for me, to be frank.

Songs like “Gods Eyes,” “Can’t Own You,” and “Rebellion” are strong, dense in reverb and Gordon’s spitting yowls, the spray practically coming out of the speakers ala Johnny Rotten. “Bulimic” closes the album on a somber yearning note that might overstay it’s welcome a bit at over six minutes, but is a representative way to bring things to an end.

This isn’t a mind-blowing disc but it’s one of the more unique in terms of the variety of different ingredients they incorporate into their sound. Heavy on richness and observant lyrics, it’s worth a listen. I would like a bit more vocal dynamics instead of the nasal chanting that at times overwhelms everything behind it, but that’s my only major complaint. 

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