Hot on the heels of the excellent sampler for this record, the Marvel EP, which contains the titular track plus Pendulum, Clean Up Crew and Haunted comes Spanish Love Songs’ fourth studio album: No Joy.
Containing all the aforementioned tracks plus an additional eight, this is a fine evolution from 2020’s Brave Faces Everyone.
I always get definite shades of early Manic Street Preachers from this group, mixed with flavours of The Airbourne Toxic Event – and that is very much still the case here.
Lead singer Dylan Slocum’s vocal delivery has more than a hint of James Dean Bradfield in it, although – at times – is reminiscent of Talking Heads’ David Byrne. If they had a vocal love child, he is it.
What is remarkable about this band is the juxtaposition between their music and lyrics.
No Joy is deceptively deep. Tracks that sound like absolute floor-filler bangers are hiding deep, existential crises.
Opening track Lifers Slocum croons: “So do you think you will outride it?” One must assume that “it” is life.
On Pendulum, he laments: “We might get what we want / but what good will that do?” Something I’m sure we have all asked ourselves.
Meanwhile, the deceptively upbeat Haunted has him singing: “There’s another body in the McDonald’s parking lot / you start to worry that’s what you will look like when it catches up with you.”
While the lyrics and vocals cut through the listener, the music’s foundations are very safe in the hands of drummer Ruben Darte, lead guitarist Kyle McAulay, bassist Trevor Dietrich and Slocum’s wife Meredith Van Woert, who contributes keyboards and acoustic guitar.
This team are tight and plays like a group who have been together all their lives rather than a mere decade (which, really, is nothing in terms of the music industry).
These are the kind of songs that beg to be played live. They are waxed woes about life, and anthems tackling the human condition. Both of these can only be elevated by hundreds of people singing them in perfect unison.
No Joy is a surprisingly complex offering that demands several listens. This is the kind of album that breaks bands from intimate venues to proper arenas.
Their upcoming tour with Hot Mulligan sees them play significantly larger venues than in the past, but on the back of this album (no offence to Hot Mulligan) people may start questioning who the actual headline act is.
Spanish Love Songs have definitely found their feet and their sound – and once they can maintain this kind of songwriting momentum the only way is up. Listen to this album on repeat and thank me later.