You know what, SPEAK? This is war. How the hell do you do it? You haven’t just crafted an album of exquisite guitar pop-rock with your latest release, I Believe in Everything, but you have lyrics that pierce through the heart of my twentysomething love life. I get torn between my musical pleasure sensors and my introspective internal hopeless romantic. I’ve been spinning this record ever since I got it a couple of days ago, and there are no signs of it slowing down any time soon.
If you have or heard SPEAK’s Hear Here EP last year, then you know what you’re in for. Four of the five songs from that album are reproduced here in almost the exact same forms, including breakout hit “Carrie.” The great thing is that all of the new songs retain the SPEAK aesthetic perfectly. Opener “Wars” is a perfect lead track for I Believe in Everything: it starts out with the sound of warm strings, but after only a couple of seconds, they get chopped and distorted before settling into a poppy midtempo groove. It’s like the perfect thesis statement for the record – the mixture of warmth and emotion with sophisticated studio sheen. “You Know as Well” has a huge, catchy chorus and fits nicely ahead of Hear Here holdover “Stand By Us” with its vocal manipulations in what I guess would be the verses. Nothing here could really be called a “rocker,” but nothing is exactly a “ballad,” either (except maybe “81” with its 50s high school prom rhythm). But song after song is catchy as hell, and would sound equally at home alongside Lady Gaga or Cut Copy.
It’s the lyrics that caught me by surprise this time around. With ten songs to delve into his lyrical themes, lead singer Troupe Gammage explores many different sides of young love. “Wars” antagonizes his subject while suggesting they be “friends for just a little while.” “I’d Rather Lie” examines the dishonesty inherent in any relationship. Album closer “Too Afraid” opens with the line, “We are too afraid / Of things we can’t change” and later adapts that to “We are too afraid / Of things we have made.” Over the course of the record, Gammage really does seem to believe in everything right along with believing in nothing. Maybe it’s just my own state of mind at the moment, but the lyrics’ cynicism seems at tension with the music’s near-ebullience. And that just keeps me hitting play.
Check out SPEAK’s CD release party tomorrow night at ND at 501 Studios at 9 p.m. with OVRLD-approved openers Fresh Millions and Marmalakes, and keep an eye out for their soon-to-be-released album I Believe in Everything