Spouse: Relocation Tactics
Spouse’s Relocation Tactics is one of those guerrilla albums that ambush you 12 hours after you first listen to it. My initial opinion of it was positive, but not overwhelmingly so. But as the day progressed, the hooks and melodies kept resurfacing, pestering me as I tried to do my daily chores. In the time it took me to grab more cat food and pick up some fresh tomatoes, I had subconsciously hummed three of their songs. And I had only listened to the album twice! The produce section of Hannaford’s is hardly the road to Damascus, but it was a conversion moment none the less.
Spouse is a rock outfit based in Northampton. It is also the main musical endeavor of Jose Ayerve, the musical journeyman who has, one way or another, been involved in practically every album to come out of the fertile/incestuous Pioneer Valley scene in the last few years. He calls in a few favors on the band’s latest album, featuring back up vocals by Flora Reed and Philip Price of the Winterpills and the ever popular New England songstress, Erin McKeown.
A lot has been made of the band’s similarities to U2, but the comparison does not do them justice. Certainly there are similarities in the vocals and some of the guitar parts, but it’s not like they’re sitting around trying to remake The Joshua Tree. Spouse endeavors to cut out a unique sonic niche for themselves, which is commendable in such a heavily populated genre. Besides, if you’re an independent band hailing from Western New England and the worst thing someone can say about you is that you sound too much like U2, you’re doing a lot of things right.
The tracks on the album shift fluidly from high-energy to wistful to heart-wrenching. They offer a wide variety of sonic arrangements (including a few effective, but highly unexpected glockenspiel features), so it never feels like you are listening to the same song over and over again. The lyrics are solid for a pop album. They aren’t Leonard Cohen good, but they’re a far cry better than what passes as a national phenomenon these days.
As a whole, Relocation Tactics delivers more than you could rightly expect from it. It’s enjoyable, straight-ahead, power-pop from beginning to end, with three or four songs that will stop you in your tracks. If you listen to nothing else by them, check out “Hangover Cure for Humanity.” Just be prepared to be humming it for the next couple of days.
CD’s available at CD Baby