All signs from Spectrals were definitely leading up to this. Bad Penny and the various EPs from Louis Jones hinted at his influences, but with Sob Story he executes everything perfectly, leaving listeners with classic pop sounds that are fitting for any time of day or year.
There’s a bit of guitar tinkering to open up Sob Story, but the warmth of Jones eventually makes its way through your speakers. Ringing guitars and a stomping beat provide an energetic touch to Louis’ vocals, which seems to have a bit of a Southern drawl to it. It builds the listener towards the immediate hit, “Heartbeat Behind. Chugging guitars offer a glimpse at traditional pub rock, yet the chorus pulls back with a softer side of things, rather than ramping up the speed for the expected release of tension. This tune demonstrates the balance and care put forth in the songwriting, never going too far into one musical realm without venturing into another.
While the majority of the numbers on the latest Spectrals release are short and to the point, we do find Jones experimenting with more expansive songs. “Sob Story” is his first go at this on the record, sprawling and slide-guitaring all the way beyond the five-minute mark. Vocally, there’s a bit of fragility, leaving Louis exposed. He doesn’t shy away, however, weaving his words around the twang of the guitar by stretching out syllables in an endearing fashion. The 3 minute mark reveals just how special his writing has become, musically. But, while this song exceeds expectations, the bread and butter on Sob Story comes from the more compact tunes.
Personally, I like the swagger of a song like “Blue Whatever.” Guitars ring out in this song, while Jones executes the lyrical delivery perfectly, bringing a smoothness to the track that helps it maintain its balance; the lightest touch of backup vocals doesn’t hurt either. And, in the best fashion, Spectrals deliver a stomping number with “Keep Your Magic” that shows just how much territory the outfit can cover, while still treading water in the pools of classic pop. The attitude is the same with the following track, “Gentle,” although the heritage of the American West resonates again with bits of slide guitar thrown in for accent marks.
Throughout the whole of Sob Story you can see that Louis Jones has a story to tell. That story seems far away from his home in Leeds, instead opting for the landscape of American pop songwriting. He sprinkles bits and pieces throughout, yet he holds it all together fairly well, leaving you with a Spectrals album that sounds varied, yet very much in one place; you’ll have fun letting your ears live in that space.