Album Review: The Spring Standards – Yellow/Gold

The Spring Standards sound hopeful.  There are very few musical groups that I’ve heard in my life that make me smile when I listen to them.  The Spring Standards are one of those groups.  They remind me of family-around-the-piano sing-a-longs (and that’s a lot of hyphens).  They also remind me of a remarkably talented Indie folk/pop group with upbeat tunes and beautiful harmonies.

I’ve been a part-time fan of The Spring Standards for a few years, but this new album converted me.  I’m all in.  I’m fatkid-cannonball committed to fandom here.  I love this band so much not just for their incredible harmonies, but for their whimsy.  They just have a nonchalance about their music, even when it’s super serious, that makes me love them.  I cannot WAIT to hear them live.  I’m sure I’ll gush more then, but I suppose you all want to read about this album.  In short, it’s incredible.

The opening track “Only Skin” is exactly what we wanted to hear.  It’s an upbeat (yet strangely dark) piano song driven by powerful lyrics and wonderful vocals.  While it seems anatomic in its message, there’s a deeper level of “knowing” that develops a rare level of intimacy.  The second verse’s inclusion of the rest of the group on harmonies really makes the track.  “You’re name is just a noise now; your face is only skin.”  This is the kind of bitter not-even-a-breakup song that many have thought, but few have written.  Wonderful.

If someone said “Pick one song that perfectly sums up the Spring Standards” I’d pick “Heavy Home.”  It’s got that poppy personality, especially from the chord structure and harmonies, that makes the group so loveable.  “Tell your mama that you gotta go… even though it’s cold outside it’s the only place you know… it’s a heavy home.”  What an adventurous and exciting song… perfect.

“Crushing Pennies” is such a full song.  It feels vintage and fresh at the same time.  It’s a love song and an oh so sweet one at that.  “If lovin’ you’s a crime… Lord knows I’ve served my time.”  There are so many clever and beautiful lyrics in this song.  It’s a winner, seriously.  It just sounds like pop radio from 1972… or, at least, what I think it sounded like then.

The Spring Standards are a rare breed in that they can pull off a variety of styles equally well.  For example, “Unmarked Pill” has a quirky syncopated beat with lyrics that highlight the unpredictability of the message.  It just clicks in a really cool way, but doesn’t have the same toe-tapping vibe of some of the other songs on the album.

To stick with the theme of variety, though, the seventh song on the album begins with a sweet, soft piano and Heather Robb’s gorgeous comfortable voice.  “So Simple So True,” has a beautiful message.  “Don’t lose your faith in love.”  It is… so simple… and so true.  This is probably the best song on the album.  It’s not a chart topper or a show stopper, but it will make your heart melt.

Songs like “Rusty Wheels” and “Here We Go” fit more firmly in a “rock” sound.  Some of the other songs could even be construed as folk.  What we like about “Here We Go” is that it has a solid driving rhythm.  It’s a real jam track that could be at home on a lot of different albums.

This is a good album start to finish.  Some of the tracks are just breathtaking.  Our favorites are “Heavy Home” and “So Simple So True.”  That said, it’s incredible to hear the variety of musical structures built into one album.  It might be easy for some to reduce The Spring Standards to a sort of 1970s American rock band, but they have a beauty and sophistication to their art through a variety of instrumentation and styles that make them stand out on the musical landscape in the 21st century.

 

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