ALBUM REVIEW: Nostalgia by Spectres

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WRITTEN BY: Vince Barreras

2020 has been a great year for music, with new and old bands putting out some really great records. Vancouver post-punk band Spectres continues this trend as the long running band put out their new release, Nostalgia, via Artoffact Records. The label also reissued all of the bands previous releases, which have spanned throughout the 2010s. Spectres definitely wear their influences on their sleeves. Giving praise to the genre of post-punk bands where elements of shoegazing, new wave, and cold wave blend together to create a really atmospheric and dark record. This time, the group entered the studio with a new vision and direction as a five piece where they had more options to create really layered and lush environments of guitar that blend well with the chorus driven bass, fast hitting drums, and Brian Gustavson’s vocals, which sound beautiful cathartic. 

What’s apparent in Nostalgia is its pacing and mood, much more somber and romantic than the bands previously released material. Take the opening track and first single for the record, “The Head and the Heart.” Its bright guitar and bass work, combined with the upbeat drum tracking, and reverb heavy vocals creates for an atmospheric track. Just when you think the song is coming to a close, the band builds it back up with whirly guitars and hypnotic like vocal delivery that leads into the second track “Dreams.” The opening guitar strumming sounds something like an old Siouxsie and the Banshees riff, but then turns into something that Spectres makes their own. The really pillowy guitars and vocal timbre blend beautifully together as they create a really ethereal experience. “When Possessed Pray” kicks off with a nice bass riff by Jason Renix that builds with the drums until the vocals come into the fray. The drum work on this track needs to be praised as Mitch Allen holds it down. “Pictures from Occupied Europe” is so far the most punk like track that features vocalist Brian Gustavson channeling energy from previous releases. “Years of Lead” slows down the pacing in favor of more sober and introspective sounding lyrics as Gustavson carries on with a poetic like temperance. 

“Fate” starts off side B with a bass line from Jason Renix that’s groovy and sounds nice and full. The tone once again gives off that distinct post-punk sound that’s timeless and continues to be a driving force behind the record. “Insurgence” plays these really sweet and spacey guitar lines that fool the listener into thinking a slow song is coming but what comes is probably the hardest song on the record. Zach Batalden and Adam Mitchell put together some of their best work on this song when it comes to their guitar work. The song features harmonies of opening calls that eventually break into a post-punk like banger that will definitely open up a live room into a mosh pit of pure bliss. “The Call,” with its smooth guitar, sounds really nice as a really heartfelt build up to the concluding track ‘Along the Waterfront.” Its delay guitar effects and sombering lyrics are a solid closing to what is an overall pleasant and captivating record to listen to. This track serves as an intimate closer to a record that will have the listener sucked in from beginning to end.

This record is flawless, from its instrumentation, production, mood and atmosphere, it has it all. Spectres strikes a perfect balance between relaying on great musicianship but using effects to further push the sound they wanted to achieve. It’s dark, at times cheerful and optimized, and other times makes you want to get up and dance. This is a homerun record for 2020 to add to all the other great post-punk and such genred albums to come out this year.

For Fans of: New Order, The Chameleons, Death Bells

Tracklist:

Side A

  1. The Head and The Heart
  2. Dreams
  3. When Possessed Pray
  4. Pictures From Occupied Europe
  5. Years of Lead

Side B

  1. Fate
  2. Insurgence
  3. The Call
  4. Along the Waterfront

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