Album Review: “Moth Boys” by Spector

Photo Credit: Hunger Magazine

When it comes to music I constantly listen to, most of the bands on my list are from the UK. I’ve been obsessed with England since I was nine, so it makes perfect sense that my personal mission in life would be to allow my ears to hear as many British accents as possible and to love every single second of it. Browsing through my record collection and the albums I’ve saved on Spotify, that’s a clear trend. I’m not sure if there’s something in the United Kingdom’s water, or if their rich musical history has just managed to carry on this long, but for some reason I tend to gravitate towards bands from that general region. The Vaccines are an obvious staple, I cry to Florence + the Machine a lot, and Wolf Alice get turned up really loud and sung along to at an awful decibel. A recent addition to the list is Spector, and, quite frankly, I can’t stop listening to them. Although I first discovered them at least a year ago, their sophomore release solidified the love and completely changed my perspective. I’m obsessed.

Moth Boys is an interestingly mature album. Spector’s debut release, Enjoy It While It Lasts, is quite upbeat and fun. The lyrics are somewhat self-deprecating and there are definitely sad tones, but it’s all cleverly hidden behind indie-disco beats and incredible ballad-like lines. The second album really changed everything for me. It’s serious and honest and darker, like you’d rather listen to it at one A.M. than in the middle of the day. It’s almost meant for dim lights and tired eyes and that point in the night where you just need one thing to push you over the edge and into over-thinking and questioning everything. This album is the thing that does it.

That’s not to say that it’s depressing. Like any good album, it deals with a fairly broad spectrum of emotions, and happiness is a theme that comes up once or twice. Even if the feelings are nostalgic ones, they’re still there. And they’re there along with sadness and all kinds of heart-breaking honesty that make you slip into a certain Spector-induced trance. I find it hard to stop listening to this record, because it’s so polished and well-written while still feeling as raw and emotional as possible. Everything is all laid out for you – all the emotions that went into it seem to be the same emotions the listener gets out of it.

The record starts off with “All the Sad Young Men,” a sort of testament to teenage angst and vulnerability. It’s apathetic and full of truth, wrapped beautifully into similes and far-reaching melodies, powerful lines like “Boys break like promises, but only behind closed doors” and “did you hear me when I said you were the inspiration?” As soon as you start listening, you find yourself in a melancholic, nostalgic mood, and that doesn’t stop until you get to the end of the album. It plucks at all the right chords and forces you to say within its romantic walls for all of its forty minutes.

Things get a little more upbeat and positive as you go on, with songs like “Stay High” and “Believe” providing danceable beats and happy anecdotes. If you read into the lyrics you can probably find the vein of sadness that seems to run through the majority of the album, but if you take it at face value, these tracks are sparkly and shining amidst the rest of the emotionally-charged songs. Hopeful lyrics including “I believe in everything you do” and “These are the ways that we show our love” allow you to let go for a couple tracks before all the contentment goes down the drain once again.

After a while it all turns back into misery and despair. The lyrics are depressing and descriptive, making it all feel that much more real for the listener. You can place yourself into the narrative and imagine the situations that are being sung about, from girls going off with rich, older men, to disheartening pleas about love and loss. Moth Boys really makes you feel something – every emotion that weaves through the record is brought to the surface of your own mind. Even if you’ve never felt a certain sentiment, you still feel nostalgic for the moments that seem to fabricate in your mind while you listen. Everything that isn’t relatable suddenly is, and every longing phrase begins to feel like your own. It’s an incredible thing to feel transported into the extravagant realm of an album, and Spector have smashed it with this one.

To me, Moth Boys feels like a sonic memoir. When I listen to it, I get the same feelings as I do when I read Just Kids by Patti Smith or I Dreamed I Was A Very Clean Tramp by Richard Hell. I can fit myself into the story and imagine what it all felt like, and that makes it feel close and real and painful in the best way possible. “Bad Boyfriend” shoots you right in the heart, and “Kyoto Garden” – perhaps my favourite song on the album – is injected with so much emotion that it could bring me to my knees. All the songs are carefully presented and produced, like they were manufactured to make you feel as attached to the album as you possibly can. You listen to it once, and suddenly you’re part of the agonizing world that Spector have created.

The band really hit the nail on the head with this album. It takes up so much of my time that it feels familiar and comforting. It’s a good friend on a gloomy day and a companion when it’s late at night and I’m still working or creating. At this point, it’s possible that half of the Spotify listens are from me alone. And I’m completely okay with that. When you feel almost impossibly connected to an album, there’s no way in hell that you should let it go. With Moth Boys, I never intend to let that happen.

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