Spector seemed to all but disappear in recent years, singer Fred Macpherson would pop up in various places and his tweets remained amusing but Spector had seemingly been pushed to the background. That was they released ‘Untitled In D’ in December of last year and revealed it was the first single off upcoming EP Ex-Directory.
‘Untitled In D’ is a gloriously solemn indie anthem which sees the band taking a new direction, synths and keys take a backseat in this guitar driven tune which got one of the largest crowd reactions at their comeback gig at Omeara in January. How Spector constantly manages to make sad tales sound so joyous all the time is a mystery, but in ‘Untitled In D’ they have a song that can make fans beam while Macpherson sings about a breakdown and potential issues with alcohol.
Second track ‘Fine Not Fine’, released earlier this week, is more like the Spector of old. A mechanic drum machine sits below a bed of synths that could easily give you a pair of fingerless leather gloves and transport you back to the 80’s in an instant. As the title suggests the lyrics aren’t particularly cheerful again but it’s yet another melancholic catchy Spector tune that will stick in your head for days.
A low rumbling bass line and haunting string synths characterise third track ‘Local International’, a slower more downbeat track more like ‘Bad Boyfriend’ then any other track from Spector’s back catalogue. The closing track, ‘Wild Guess’ is slower and more sombre still until a guitar line that wouldn’t be out of place in a track from a stadium rock band kicks in to lift the track out of its slump somewhat.
Spector’s use of synths has always helped them stand out in a genre full of the same guitar sounds being layered on top of each other. Yes, in recent years bands like The 1975 have given the synthesizer more popularity but the way Spector utilize all the different sounds available to them really makes them stand out. ‘Untitled In D’ suggested the band might have taken a shift away from their signature sound but actually, the rest of Ex-Directory showcases just how much time and effort they put into this area of their songs. Each synth line is carefully thought out and no two sound the same in the slightest. This, combined with the dour vocals and witty lyrics of Macpherson is a winning formula which has made Spector such an exciting prospect for so many years and thankfully Ex-Directory lives up to the excitement.