Run For Cover Records
Release Date: October 2, 2015
I’ve always been a sucker for music that focuses more on doing things in a different manner yet still manages to be poppy. One of my fondest memories from my teenage years was telling my Dad that Daniel Smith was a musical genius and then playing Tri-Danielson!!! (Alpha) for him. The look of horror on his face is forever engrained in my brain… I digress, you did not come here to read my memoirs, you came to read of Spencer Radcliffe’s new record Looking In.
The first time I listened to this record it was while I was working on something else. I kind of gave it half of my attention. I completely hated it, it just seemed like another pointless experimental indie-rock record that really didn’t have anything going for it. Then I sat down and really listened to it. This is a headphones record in every sense of the term. There are little things going on all over the place that you miss if you don’t give it the attention it is due.
This record is really good. It combines elements of noise rock, indie-pop, found music, and lo-fi experimentation into a really thought provoking mixture. To me it’s a combination of Sufjan Steven’s more experimental work (think Enjoy Your Rabbit), Half-handed Cloud and Jeremy Enigk’s Return of the Frog Queen. True, Radcliffe doesn’t have a voice that immediately sets him apart from the crowd like Enigk, but that actually makes Looking In easier to digest and allows his musical experimentation to breathe a little bit more.
Picking out favorite songs is difficult to do with Looking In. The album’s second track “Mia” is a great twee-pop song that has an amazing synth riff that runs winds its way through the end of the track. “World’s Disguise” is where the Sufjan Steven’s comparison is at its greatest for me. It features chimey synths in a very unstructured post-pop sort of manner. I think the bird chirps, dog barks and cat meows heard are actually created on a synthesizer, but they are fascinatingly used to create a bridge in an amazing deconstruction. Another stand out is “Other Side” which features beautifully bizarre hornplay, an intentionally off kilter vocal chorus and random screams towards the end of the song. It reminds me of something that might have come off of Havalina Rail Co.’s Diamond in the Fish.
When Radcliffe tries to do something more ‘conventional’ he doesn’t fall on his face, but things are a bit boring. The album’s first single “Mermaid” is fairly standard acoustic pop song that really doesn’t do anything for me at all. Later on in the album there is a noisy guitar rock song “Salesman” that I really could do without. Radcliffe is really good at doing things in a weird unique way and he’s definitely at his best when he is doing so.
Spencer Radcliffe knows how to write a great pop song. He also knows how to take that song apart and rebuild it in a completely different manner. Looking In shows just how creative he can be. If you are looking for something creative and different, please pick up this record.
Reviewed by: Rob 1340