Crafting impeccable bedroom-pop is a delicate art; the ingredients, refined and specific. Take one part young-male-whimsy, two drops of lonely introspection. One (large) dollop of synth-y stuff, a touch of clean-guitar-jangle, and a whole slab of drum machine. Perhaps the singer’s lyrics are a bit lost & lovelorn? Maybe he even sounds a little bit like Ian curtis? Maybe this all sounds painfully familiar to you. Justin Paul Vallesteros don’t care… On Craft Spells’ Gallery, he’s sad & playful, he’s hip, and he’s circling down the warm-flushed waters of an endless drain.
Listening to the EP for the first time, it’s evident that band founder/main songwriter Vallesteros’ intent lies within the same head space he imparted on 2011′s Idle Labor. In broad terms, Gallery is a replication of the “Craft Spells” métier. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing and it’s not, not fun zoning out to dreamy pop-scapes. Still, there’s an underlying desire (as a fan) to witness growth & progression in a band’s music; or at least some semblance of consistency between releases. While the sound & style are very consistent here, the songs aren’t quite on par with their previous effort.
Instrumentally, it’s hard to deny the joyful-buoyancy of the compositions. (Look kids!! Grandpa’s a-tappin his toes!) Like other electro-indie bands of a similar ilk, part of the joy is hearing how the songs re-layer, build and cycle back over the main motif or beat. It’s something Craft Spells do well and there’s an infectious, exuberance present on most of the material. Take “Warmth”, which lulls momentarily, only to erupt into a breathless, jungle-beat scene. “Burst” follows suit and rides its shimmery guitars and clean-picked bass line into similarly, uplifting territory. The fun is there, but the songwriting isn’t exactly revelatory. If “Another Moment With You” remains Craft Spells’ force majeure, the tunes on Gallery are merely its humble servants.
And hey, that isn’t to suggest the songs aren’t serviceable, they just feel vaguely uninspired. One might wonder if Craft Spells have any other tricks up their sleeves… Or, maybe it’s just that their fate is doomed to eternal repetition.
Tags: adam bonich, Craft Spells, Craft Spells - Gallery EP review, gallery ep review, Reviews