Spool craft a darkly seductive album with an angelic core.
Label: Gerpfast Kolektif
Yes, horror movies get scary when the ghost girl climbs out of the TV and our protagonist runs aways in fear, but there’s something scarier about films where the protagonist runs toward certain doom. It Follows got that. Some things anyone in their right mind would run away from, the abject, that which disgusts. But isn’t it scarier when we’re seduced into going toward things we know we shouldn’t. We’ve all had those moments during a horror film where we say, “Don’t go in there!” More unsettling are those moments where we say, “I’d go in there, too.” It’s the seduction. It’s the siren’s call.
Spool somehow bottle this feeling on, 私は泳ぐ、メロンソーダ. It starts with the cover; yes it is beautiful, it entices, but the backdrop of deep space, the girl swimming (is she trapped? what is outside?), there’s no doubt that it unsettles. Immediately this sense of beautiful dis-ease emerges in the music. Lots of indie-rockers tap into jazzy moods, it is a more rarefied breed of indie rockers who tap into minor keys and mild dissonance. Spool are the latter, but they never let their darkness overwhelm their ability to write a hook. Nothing brings out this tendency more prominently than “In the Dark”: the drums groove (except for that genius extra snare hit on the back end of every other bar), the backing vocals coo with a hook that fades into the background, the guitars are barely there, ghostly whisps in the background. All-in-all it is a mini-masterpiece in mood.
Those first two songs are the minor-key seducers. The siren call leading you to your doom. What lies at the end of the path? Unexpectedly, it is the absolutely glorious “Sink You.” All of a sudden the minor keys are gone. Its sunset. You’ve reconnected with your true love after years of unwanted separation. The drums pound in restraint like the feelings brimming over in your heart. Then your lover smiles. The drums break into their groove. The guitar lines are fireworks signaling the re-entry of true love into your life. “In the Dark” was good, but it doesn’t prepare you for the showstopper that is “Sink You.”
But Spool is not finished with you yet. Immediately after”Sink You” becomes nothing more than a memory, the clouds set in again. “Be My Valentine” offers up what seems to be a straight shoegaze number, but it’s infected. Dissonant notes start raining down to disturb any bliss leftover from “Sink You”. Then the hammer drops, “Taikutsu to Youutsu.” Some bands are content to allow in some dissonance before resolution, Spool give you all dissonance no resolution. The best way to sound incompetent is to play a dissonant note in a sea of consonance; the best way to sound brilliant is to play a consonant note in a sea of dissonance. Spool does just that; they keep “Taikutsu to Youutsu” hanging together with just that hint of sweetness that keeps from repelling the listener. This is the moment in the film where your reconnected lover is revealed to be the demon, or ghost, but you resign yourself to being pulled under because of the depth of feeling.
The album caps things off with a bit of bittersweet. “Springpool” is the final hymn. It is the revelation that the seduction to destruction, the reconnection with the former lover, and the doom of “Taikutsu to Youutsu” were all a dream. The feeling lingers, but you are back to the real world.
Spool have made their own world, and inhabited it fully. 私は泳ぐ、メロンソーダ is phenomenal. Wherever they go next, they will have to work hard to top this.