Ambiguous Poems About Death – Spray (reviewed by Dave Franklin)

It is fair to say that Hammered in an Airport is one of my favourite tracks of the year, which is odd because synth-driven pop is not something that usually catches my ear. And that just shows you the power of a great song and of talented songwriters. A great song catches you off guard, it tears down tribal prejudices, it reminds you that there are only two types of music…the stuff you like and the stuff that you don’t. Hammered in an Airport is a truly great song.

So what of the wonderfully titled Ambiguous Poems About Death, the album that the song calls home? Well, if Hammered in an Airport was the song that really demonstrated to me how brilliant Spray’s witty, wise and often satirical pop is, opener Blurred in The Background, another single sent out into the world as a taster and teaser, just hammered things home.

On the surface, Spray‘s music seems simple, a collection of dance grooves and smart lyrics, infectious, immediate, inventive…everything that pop should be. But the more you listen to things, the more you realise just how clever the album is. Imagine if The Pet Shop Boys developed a sense of humour? Or if Chumbawamba stopped taking themselves so seriously. Or perhaps if The KLF got bored of their own anarchy and just concentrated on making the music rather than changing its landscape.

Enough of the Small Talk, Where’s My Money? like many of their songs, seems to take deft side-swipes at society but does so in such a way that it doesn’t get in the way of the song, one which ebbs and flows between subtle breakdowns and shimmering groove-fests. The Big Idea is poised and polished, Mindless Insincere Ooze is surprisingly buoyant, bouncing along on its own jocular energy and The Emergency Exit Man is futuristic, frantic, fun and fantastic.

It’s an album of great songs and sonic high points, easy addictions and risible lyrics, it’s one that seems straightforward but listen closer and you realise that its songs are masterclasses in hook and groove. Come here for the glorious Hammered in An Airport, stay for another eleven fantastic songs. Pop just upped its game, good luck following this, people!

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