After the critically acclaimed EP ‘Sea Creature’, Dublin band Spies began recording in Bow Lane Studio, but soon progress was put on pause. A long pause of three years.
However, now, after a three-year break, Spies have clawed their way back from the shadows and finished off their debut album. One can assume over this time the members were tending to the budding LP with ideas, demos and plenty of alterations, as ‘Constancy’ has an incredibly accomplished sound. Especially on singles Ho Chi Minh and Broadstone, we hear a fuller, wider, sharper side to the indie five-piece that we have not heard on previous releases.
Something also very clear on ‘Constancy’ is the shift from the guitar-based sound of previous releases, as the album is abundant with impressive synth sequences and electronic sounds. The highlights coming in the form of tracks Strange Fast and Watchman. The former bops a lot looser than the other self-contained rockers on the album. It’s a charming melancholy love song with an ‘80s emotive feel and a gorgeous soaring chorus, while Watchman is a gritty near-industrial synth pop number with a strong, slow groove that has you begging for the outro to be extended – at least for another 60 seconds.
Something that makes Spies stand out from the current indie class is singer Michael Broderick’s impressive and oddly polite-sounding voice. His affable articulate roar is something unique, as he obtains your attention at quieter moments and soars high above the music in the more raucous parts.
The frontman’s lyricism is also something to be commended. His effortless combination of the straight-talking and the poetic floats perfectly in rhythm with the music, like on Broadstone: “Arbitrary time with you / Is something that I’m going through / Mornings in my dressing gown / With coffee pots for us to drown in.” While on tracks like Young Dad his lyrics can sometimes be bordering on the humorous side: “I try my best to please you / But the way you grimace at my dancing / I don’t think I’d stand a chance no.”
After a long break between the release of the ‘Sea Creature’ EP to the first single from ‘Constancy’, for any artists, that would be sure to build up a store of creativity; and with no outlet, some anxiety to follow.
What we are hearing now is the deep exhale of caged-in artists. From the bubbling feeling of pent-up creativity emerges ‘Constancy’, strong and hungry, like some sort of John Hurt alien tummy-baby.
But what’s birthed is nothing to fear. This album is a fantastic debut of synth-driven indie rock and beautiful soaring vocals. We can just hope that the next one doesn’t take as long.