I’ve loved Spector for years. They’re a band that knows how to capture the discomfort and confusion and agony of being a young adult, and they do so without sugar-coating or idealizing any of it. Every single one of their tracks expresses emotion in a poignant and intelligent way, all of them with sharp lyrics like Heard he was your rock, does that make me your hard place? and If you weren’t on my mind, I’d have no mind to be on. Bands like Spector are good company to keep when you’re moving through awkward periods of change and growth, and maybe that’s why I’ve held onto their music for so long.
With the release of their newest effort, an EP titled Ex-Directory, Spector is following through with the themes they know and love. Clocking in at just over ten minutes of music, each track is short and to the point. The songs feel like paintings or short films or tableaux, four tiny glimpses into a big, chaotic life. Despite how quickly it’s over, the EP feels full. A quartet of tracks is more than enough for the band to get their point across.
Ex-Directory’s first track, ‘Untitled in D,’ was released last December. Despite its late release, it became one of my favourite songs of the year. The song takes Spector past teenage angst and onto the verge of real adulthood, discussing the disappointments and setbacks and confusion of growing into a new form of existence.
Following ‘Untitled in D’ is ‘Fine Not Fine,’ which wins the prize of my favourite song from the release. The track is an anthem for those of us growing up and finding our footing in the age of the Internet, drawing inspiration from emotions and thoughts expressed on social media. From the outset, it’s clear that the song is as truthful and intelligent as every other Spector release. Opening with the line And I’ve never been myself, I just follow orders, it’s instantly relevant and relatable. Each verse expresses another conflict, and the chorus is built on a simple but impactful repetition of I’m fine, I’m fine, I’m not fine.
The EP then moves into ‘Local International,’ a track that seems too smooth to be the vehicle for lyrics about navigating relationships in a world that feels like it’s falling apart. Like every other Spector song, it’s catchy, but it’s also pertinent and hard-hitting. The band has somehow managed to wrap human connection up in words about globalization and capitalism, a combination that seems to project the realities of a life that we’re all trying to adjust to.
‘Wild Guess’ rounds out the collection, leaving listeners on a melancholic but hopeful note. It’s the slowest track on the EP, and the one that feels the most like love. The lyrics are dripping with longing and hesitation, the kind that comes with meeting someone you’d probably like to have around for a while. It’s layered and intricate, and the repeated insistence of Don’t ask me who I’m trying to impress, just take a wild guess is enough to make me swoon.
I like when bands release new music that shows off how much they’re progressing, but also how much integrity and soul they’re retaining, and that’s what Spector has done with Ex-Directory. The tracks are impressive, the lyrics are honest, and the whole thing feels like a refuge for anyone struggling to navigate a world and a life and a body that seems to change with every passing second. The EP is proof that Spector is alive and well, and that maybe we’re all alive and well, too. Finding the life that lives inside your chest is hard, but it’s worth it, and I hope that one day soon we’ll all be standing on rooftops, filling our lungs with air and proclaiming how much we love what and who and where we are.