Alternative rock encompasses many subgenres blurring into one another, making rock sensation the Spill Canvas hard to classify. Do the heart wrenching ballads on their debut, Sunsets and Car Crashes, make them emo? Or are the sardonically splendid rock tunes on their sophomore release reminiscent of pop-punk? Their latest album, No Really, I’m Fine, answers those questions as the band goes in an exclusively electric direction, and the new sound won’t disappoint.
After the gem that was 2005’s One Fell Swoop, the band had a lot to live up to. But the new album’s first songs are promising. “Reckless Abandonment” hurtles head-on with driving drums and vocals, though the superficial “us vs. them” lyrics are disappointing coming from Spill’s brainchild Nick Thomas, known for his heartfelt and mature songwriting on previous albums. Still, “All Over You,” the album’s first single, follows with the perfect ingredients for a hit: sensitive lyrics, catchy rhythms, and the same expressive vocals that made girls everywhere fall in love with Thomas after hearing “Staplegunned” on Swoop.
The third song, “Battles,” epitomizes Spill’s sound. The lyrics are pure poetry; the lines “Bound by my own disposition/The endless hunt to find fruition” evoke nostalgia of Sunsets. Thoughtful slide guitar complements the gorgeous guitar melodies typical of Spill’s music.
Other songs are unfortunately unimpressive. “Saved” works best as a sleep aid, and “Hush Hush” is just a transparent attempt at recreating “Lust A Prima Vista,” the clever hook on Swoop. But then comes “Connect the Dots,” beautifully orchestrated with the same epic feel of “This Is For Keeps,” Swoop’s token love song. Thomas’s sexy vocals and imagery, while somewhat repetitive, are heart melting.
The finale redeems the album’s more forgettable songs. Aptly titled “Lullaby,” it’s the only acoustic song on the album, paying homage to the days when Spill was primarily acoustic. The soothing guitar strumming on “Lullaby” is beautiful and packed with emotion. The lyrics really do “sing you to sleep,” as Thomas croons in each verse.
Though Swoop still reigns as the band’s crowning achievement, No Really, I’m Fine should please even the purists of Spill’s acoustic days. It’s a flawed but genuinely enjoyable rock album with some brilliant songs. No Really represents the final stage in the band’s evolution from an acoustic act to an electric quartet, and though the sound is louder, Spill remains passionate and poetic, with integrity rarely found in modern music.
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