Spector; showmanship AND good music.
It’s the 24th of August, I’m staggering around Reading festival in the mud, and I’ve lost my mates. In a few hours I’ll watch 30 Seconds to Mars on the main stage, a band with bucketloads of showmanship, larger than life onstage personas, expensive interesting fancy music videos, and some really shit songs. Tomorrow I will watch the Strokes, a band who have penned many a marvellous, life-changing tune, but have no showmanship, act as if they’d rather be anywhere else then headlining a rock festival, and whose musical marketing campaigns are inexplicably dull (in all seriousness, Under Cover of Darkness should have been a number one hit, the way they mucked that up was infuriating).
But as I’m trudging through the mud, my ears prick up, and my eyes dart towards the BBC Introducing stage, in the same way that a meerkat stands erect when looking out for food or predators. There I see Spector, performing a set of optimistic, careless indie rock that has no place on such a small stage, and would suggest that the horrors of the late 00s (landfill indie, bands forgetting how to write hits, Pitbull existing) never happened. The mic-stand is manned by a 21st century rockstar named Fred Macpherson, who resembles Harry Potter’s cooler older brother who had magical abilities but was more interested in making a band instead, and as he leads his band through the hands-aloft anthemic Never Fade Away, all is right in Reading.
Fast forward almost a year, Spector have sold out Camden’s Electric Ballroom despite not having released an album yet, been voted into BBC’s Sound of 2012 Poll, got more than 400 thousand views for their Chevy Thunder video on youtube, and none of these facts really allude to what makes Spector special. For that, one must watch their music video for single and Zane Lowe’s recent hottest track in the world, Celestine. Watching the promo on mute, it’s only natural for a sceptic musical fan to expect Spector’s actual music to be absolute shite; the video is interesting in an intentionally ironic way, aesthetically pleasing and portrays a stylised characteristic band; surely Spector must fall into the aforementioned 30 Seconds To Mars-like camp? But then the audio is turned on, and out of my shitty laptop speakers comes the kind of optimistic, carelessly powerful and melodic pop tune that the Killers used to write on a good day. The video may begin with NME-reader-baiting quote “in the desert, where all good music videos are made” but the chorus’ cries of “keep the past in the past and notice, that I only ever did what I thought was right” are delivered without a hint of a smirk.
And it is in this that lays Spector’s true quality. They are a band with bucketloads of showmanship, larger than life onstage personas, expensive interesting fancy music videos, and really damn good songs. Their lineup may boast one of the most charismatic frontmen in recent rock history -whose stage banter (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ro8d3nExw1Q) will be second to none in the world of music once Pulp separate again – and the moment at 2:27 in the Celestine video when all of the band bar Macpherson freeze mid jump, leaving him doing the chicken dance alone, may be one of the best promo moments not orchestrated by an American rapper, but what is more important is that Spector manage to balance this presence of fun in their music with no-nonsense tunes. When was the last time you could say that about a British band?