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Reviews Spiders - February 1997 - Daily Trojan

Todd Martens

Two popular predictions about what will be the next big thing have been relentlessly floating around the music industry. One, seemingly the prevailing opinion, predicts electronic and techno, while the other predicts that Americans will again crave good ol' fashioned catchy pop music. But where does that leave a band like Space that can successfully do both?

More often than not, when rock bands dive into techno, the songs sound cluttered, forced or just too goofy to take seriously. U2's "Discotheque" comes close to fittingly marrying rock and dance but misses ever so slightly by smashing together too many elements of both, and there's just too much going on for the listener to grasp it. On Spiders, Space is able to bring everything down to earth. The guitars don't lead and the beats don't overpower--a marriage in perfect harmony.

Comprised of four twentysomething lads from Liverpool, Space puts together songs that range from pure techno ("Growler") to Oasis-meets-Black Grape rock ("Vooder Roller"), covering plenty of ground in between. The album smoothly flows from song to song with underlying guitars that accent the friendly techno beats provided by keyboard player Franny Griffiths. The effect is one that gives each song a distinct atmosphere while seldom giving away too much control to either techno or rock. Electronic blips are not overused and show up only to give songs more character.

"Neighborhood" starts the album off with a rolling Eastern-tinged dance rhythm that resembles something out of a James Bond film, while lead-singer Tommy Scott bites off the end of each line with a sharp British accent. The circulating beats take us in and out of the various houses to spy on the sick inhabitants of a neighborhood that includes a murderous clergyman.

The third track on the album, "Female of the Species," landed and held a spot in the UK Top 40 for 10 weeks.

The story parallels a girlfriend with the deadly venomous Black Widow spider. Scott's stunned and trapped vocals sing Frankenstein and Dracula have nothing on you / Jekyll and Hyde join the back of the queue over a dreamy and enchanted electrified glockenspiel that is stolen straight from happy hour at a bar on a tropical island.

Spiders reaches its high-point with the most pop-infected tune on the album, "Me and You Versus the World." This sweepingly cinematic coming-of-age tale about two star-crossed lovers turning to crime easily breaks free of conventional pop form without disrupting the song in the slightest. Scott lurches into a spoken-word verse when the narrator gets shot, and the music all but stops except for a hazy and slow pulsating techno throb. The guitars suddenly rise at just the right moment and turn the tune back into the catchy-as-heck pop melody that finishes with a couple happy to go to hell together.

Almost every track on this album contains something worth admiring. There are the high-pitched, cartoon-like vocals squealing in a Spanish accent on "Mister Psycho." The selfish-revenge tale of "Money" features vocals crossing John Lennon with John Lydon. The overly mixed guitars on "No One Understands Me" make it maddeningly and engrossingly repetitive. The funky dance chorus of "Drop Dead" will challenge anyone not to get up. The cynically clever lyrics of "Charlie M." take shots at Madonna and Huckleberry Hound, and even have Mickey Mouse seeing a shrink.

The electronic onslaught is underway, and if U2's Pop successfully brings techno to mainstream rock audiences, Space deserves more than a cut of the crowd.

Original Article available here
Source: Daily Trojan