A debut to grab you by the lapels and and throw you onto the dancefloor
When asked for his New Year’s resolutions in an interview at the tail end of 2011, Fred Macpherson said: “I’d like to be more obnoxious. Generally, obnoxious people seem to move quicker and do better. They might make less friends, but they seem to make more of life.” In the seven months that have followed this statement the Spector singer has come good on his promise on more than one occasion. Not since Johnny ‘Jesus complex’ Borrell has an indie frontman so completely polarised opinion, whose annoying yet captivating personality traits irritate and enthrall in equal measure.
On one hand there’s the constant over-the-top stagecraft and showmanship, the ever-present comb in the top pocket, the never-ending stream of oh-so-quotable soundbites, the rampant arrogance that teeters on the edge of obnoxiousness before falling headfirst into it – all things that make for a brilliant pop star. On the other there’s the sense of eyebrow-arching irony in Macpherson’s super-hip east London demeanour that all too often leads to just wanting to give the irritating smartarse a slap. Sometimes it can be hard to tell if he’s for real, or just the human embodiment of Vice magazine.
But ‘Enjoy It While It Lasts’ adds some solid credibility to Macpherson’s silliness. Having consistently confessed his love for the early 2000s indie disco and its stock components of The Strokes, The Killers and Razorlight, Spector’s debut sounds like a lost gem from exactly that time. So go on, think back to 2004. To when choruses were anthemic, riffs were simple and catchy, singers pouted around singing about being young and drunk and getting laid (or not). It was a simpler time. Not because these bands were being tongue-in-cheek or dumbing anything down, but because Franz Ferdinand’s ‘Take Me Out’ will just fundamentally always be a better floor filler than all your Jessie Wares and Django Djangos put together. Spector recognise this in a way that very few bands have since that heyday and, whilst the big, brash choruses on ‘Enjoy It While It Lasts’ may seem completely out of place eight years later, they’re most definitely the real deal.
‘True Love (For Now)’ kicks it all off in disarmingly subtle fashion, with woozy piano plonks gradually morphing into nostalgic and fairly restrained peaks with a hint of Summer Camp. But from ‘Chevy Thunder’ (all en masse chants and Danny Blandy’s incessantly upbeat drums), the quintet is all about pure balls-to-the-wall, hedonistic kicks. ‘Friday Night, Don’t Ever Let It End’ slyly pilfers its opening, chiming guitar line from The Darkness’ ‘Christmas Time (Don’t Let The Bells End)’ (entirely on purpose, we imagine) before turning into a kind of retro-Killers ode to partying which spirals out of control on synth-lines and tightly-plucked guitars alongside chants of “Friday night/I don’t want to wake up alive”. ‘Twenty Nothing’, meanwhile, encapsulates the ideology of the band in one fell swoop, strung out on guitar jerks so ‘Is This It’ they may as well come with a free pair of Converse signed by Julian Casablancas. The song’s full of witty lyrical observations (“I’m riding shotgun, seeing how it feels/Now his car’s got two third wheels”), and is a celebration of youth and the strangely triumphant, self-deprecating sense of inevitable failure. ‘Lay Low’ – all crooning vocals and slow-building misty-edged romance – brings the tempo down before turning into a lighters-aloft anthem (as all good indie ballads should), whilst ‘What You Wanted’ brings the football terrace sing-a-longs, before 2011’s single ‘Never Fade Away’ closes proceedings in suitably epic fashion.
There is, inevitably, a massive clanger lurking at the end of ‘Enjoy It While It Lasts’ in the shape of ‘Upset Boulevard’, in which someone plummily deadpans: “This is a musical emergency/ Piracy is a crime/Home-taping is killing music/Keep it legal” and that feeling of wanting to give the smartarse a slap begins to itch at your fingers again. But minor glitch aside, ‘Enjoy It While It Lasts’ is a more than enjoyable collection
of old-school indie gems. Which, after all, is what they were shooting for all along.