Spectrals are back with their second record, an album stuffed full of fresh mettle and renewed panache, honed with the assistance of GIRLS' Chet "JR" White.
'Sob Story' is set for release on June 3rd through Wichita Recordings (Slumberland in the US only) and sees Heckmondwike, Yorkshire resident Louis Jones ooze a new confidence not heard on previous record 'Bad Penny' or his earlier single releases. The songs sparkle: they are catchier, poppier, more direct into your ears than ever before.
We invite to you sample 'Milky Way', a track that revisits Spectrals' most frequented theme, and indeed the theme of this album; love. As Jones once said - it's all "just about love really" - but this time the lyrics are more reflecting on and questioning of love and relationships.
'Sob Story' displays Louis's wide-ranging influences - many loves developed on family car journeys growing up - from Big Star and The Rolling Stones, through Nick Lowe, Tom Petty and Slade to Galaxie 500 and even blink-182. Some of these sounds are more obvious than others but it is legendary Welsh Rock'n'Roller, Dave Edmunds that Louis names as the key influence on his song-writing and the sound he wanted on this record, saying that he was "trying to cop some of those Country and Rockabilly licks he does".
Louis takes all these influences and puts them together to create something that is undeniably Spectrals. You might argue that he does this in a similar manner to his very favourite musician ("that's my guy"), Elvis Costello. Much like Jones on this new album, Costello has always been a musician who could traverse many styles across an album but who never lost his own style and voice whilst doing so.
And speaking of voices, what really stands out as you listen to Sob Story is how the once shy Jones, who would hide his vocal in a cloak of echo, can be heard singing more clearly, strongly and proudly than ever before. Long gone are the reverb-soaked days when Louis would be heard at gigs asking the soundman to turn the reverb on his vocals up between every song, whilst also requesting they not even turn it off between songs when he speaks to the audience (something that is a commonplace practice for most musicians) because he didn't like to hear himself in the monitors without it.
So what has caused this undeniable leap in confidence? It could well be the result of two years on the road, touring with the likes of Real Estate (and as support act, as well as backing band, to the R.E. side-project, Ducktails), Cults (two months across North America), Best Coast, The Cribs and many others, including GIRLS.
There was a strong mutual-appreciation between Spectrals and GIRLS from the start and having got to know Chet "JR" White from the band, and being a fan of his production work for is own band, it made perfect sense to ask him if he would like to work on the next Spectrals record.
And so, Louis and his brother & permanent band member Will flew out to San Francisco to start laying down the songs that now make-up Sob Story at the Decibelle studio. Working in his hometown allowed JR to call in friends of his to contribute their own magic to moments of the album. Guitarist Jon Anderson added lead guitar to five of the twelve tracks, of whom, with typical modesty, Louis said "it was ace to have a real guitar player around".
The band were also joined on three songs by pedal-steel player, Tom Heyman and JR even played some of the basslines himself, as well as adding some deft manipulation from behind the soundboard.
As JR said in a recent interview for Paste magazine, "we had to use a lot of creativity and in the end, it sounds really cohesive and big. It's not a lo-fi record".
In short, Sob Story sees Spectrals back and better than ever, brimming with confidence and the best songs of the Jones brothers' careers so far. It's an album that begs to be played again as soon as it finishes and one that will also create excitement at what is to come next from this band, whether Louis is lucky or unlucky in love between now and then.
Sob Story tracklist:
01. Let Me Cave In
02. A Heartbeat Behind
04. Sob Story
05. Milky Way
06. Friend Zone
08. Something To Cry About
09. Blue Whatever
10. Keep Your Magic Out of My House
12. In A Bad Way
Listen to 'Milky Way' here: