Nothing To Nowhere
Vancouver’s Spectres have been making me feel my age for a couple of years now (not that they’re drastically younger than me or anything). A post-punk band well integrated into the new deathrock milieu, who wore Sisters shirts and venerated Sophie Scholl on their own, had been regularly playing in my hometown without me knowing? And had dropped an EP back in ’07, no less? Clearly moving to the West End had made me soft and out of touch with what was happening on the other side of Main St. In any case, I got caught up and thoroughly enjoyed Spectres’ bracing 2010 LP Last Days upon its release, and now, amidst some distribution strife, am happy to dig into their sophomore album.
The quick dyad of “Remote Viewing” and “Amnesia” shows Spectres’ expanded strength and range in six and a half minutes. The core, burning guitar hook of the former is paired wonderfully with a circling, slowly rising vocal from Zach Batuldin, and sits in strong juxtaposition to the clomping, cold and martial feel of “Amnesia”, wherein a starkly recited litany of world events and unrest (with a distinctly Canadian cast) recalls Wire kicking the door in with “Reuters”.
Some of the more abrasive edges of Last Days‘ sound have been sanded down slightly on Nothing To Nowhere, resulting in a listen that’s both more melodic and melancholy. The reflective yet still anthemic “Missing Time” is a great centerpiece and lynchpin for the album, all dreamy washes of synth and almost mournful vocals while chiming guitars and an insistent beat push ahead. That tension between action and introspection, fire and ice, has sat at the heart of this sort of music for over thirty years now, and Spectres walk that line perfectly, while still keeping their personal touches (socially minded lyrics, just a hint of goth) intact.
Many classic and well-worn names come to mind while listening to Nothing To Nowhere – 1919, Sad Lovers And Giants, and (of course) Joy Division – but also some turn of the millennium acts from Western Canada: Radio Berlin, The Floor. The very term post-punk suggests a referent point, a “following after”, but these have always been floating, elastic relations: points on a continuum rather than conservative recreations of a static model. Spectres’ navigation of those waters on Nothing To Nowhere feels effortless but always impassioned, the continuation of a legacy rather than slavish devotion to it.
Buy it on Bandcamp.