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Reviews Spiders - 1997 - ConsumableBob Gajarsky
You may have noticed our European correspondents putting the debut record of Space, Spiders, in their top 5 of *1996*. It's no accident that Europe has fallen in love with this British band and if there's any justice in the world, America will as well.
The four-piece outfit of Tommy Scott on vocals and bass, Jamie Murphy on vocals and guitar, Franny Griffiths on keyboards and Andy Parle on drums bears relation to their Britpop neighbors only in their decidedly British accents and their country of origin.
Weird without being incomprehensible, different while maintaining the aura of pop, Space somehow produce a wonderfully original record without ignoring their musical predecessors.
Many of the tracks offer two or three completely distinct styles within four minutes of pop bliss. While most albums can be captured in a few key phrases such as techno, industral, or synthpop, Spiders defies such categorizations.
Possibly the closest comparison to Space would be the psychedlic dance beats of Shaun Ryder's groups, Happy Mondays and Black Grape. After all, songs such as "Mister Psycho", "Voodoo Roller" and "Major Pager" approach the best of Ryder's groups' output.
However, the part that may be most challenging for music fans raised on a mentality of "3 singles, 3 mid level tracks, and 4 filler tunes" is that these standout songs are neither indicative of the album, nor its best tracks. That honor lies with the three British top 20 singles which helped Spiders debut at number five on the British charts and become so popular as an import that Universal had to move up its release date for the album by several weeks.
Those singles *do* display all the diversity Space has to offer. "Me and You Vs. The World" harks back to the early British pop of the 60's in that same vein as the Kinks and Herman's Hermits. Mexican cha-chas, a la Ben E. King's "Spanish Harlem", is the background for a Burt Bacharach meets alternative lounge music - sprinkled with some xylophones - on "Female of the Species". Juan Esquivel would have an absolute field day with this one.
The third single and leadoff track, "Neighbourhood", is probably the standout song on this collection full of stars. Spy theme music serves as the mural which Space use to paint a Pulp-ish sounding hit. Even the lyrics are quirky - their neighborhood consists of the local transvestite, the serial killer vicar who lives at 666, the big butch queen, and the folks who make a living off of crime - but are never there because they're all doing time.
Vocalist Tommy Scott explains the method behind their writing madness, "I get my ideas from Quentin Tarantino movies and Looney Tunes cartoons. We'll never write ordinary love songs. We're more likely to write 'I met a girl and she's in love with me so she poisoned my entire family'."
The diversity doesn't end there. Funk and white suburbia rap also make their presence on different cuts and, if there weren't already enough twists and turns on Spiders, the group end the album with a pure techno track - no vocals - "Growler". It doesn't hit 160 beats a minute, but it could easily fit in at a rave.
Spiders is why full length albums were invented, instead of singles. The only common thread among the fourteen tracks, besides the band, is Space's committment to altern-pop sensibility.
Because of its diversity, Spiders may prove to be too smart an album for generic record buyers. But for anyone who appreciates an album that from start to finish never lets up
- and never lets the listener down - Spiders is a must-have.
Original Article available here