Spacey Jane – ‘Here Comes Everybody’ review: indie rockers push forward on their mission of empathy

The Fremantle band still ruminate on anxiety and uncertainty even as they expand their jangly indie rock sound with the help of pop producer Konstantin Kersting

How many ways are there to say “I love you”? Probably as many as there are of saying the complete opposite. Spacey Jane explore those poles of self-loathing and -loving – and the longing in between – with anecdotes and excerpts of conversations, carefully weaving these fragments together to form an emotional tapestry. The Fremantle band started that project with 2020 debut album ‘Sunlight’, which put them on the map, and now continue stitching with their second album, ‘Here Comes Everybody’.

The LP’s name is borrowed from the working title of Wilco’s magnum opus ‘Yankee Hotel Foxtrot’, chosen by Spacey Jane because of how it “immediately relates to the themes of the album”. While similarity between the two releases is scarce sound-wise, the words “here comes everybody” speak to an impending arrival, as if right around the corner lies the rest of the world with all its challenges. An undercurrent of anxiety was palpable throughout ‘Sunlight’, and it makes a return in their latest offering – and even surges to the surface.

‘Here Comes Everybody’ begins with three upbeat songs before diving head-first into something the band didn’t explore too much in ‘Sunlight’: dreary music for their equally dreary lyrics. Tracks like ‘Clean My Car’, ‘It’s Been A Long Day’ and ‘Not What You Paid For’ dial down the tempo a little in order to truly embody the deadening feelings they’re about. Along the way, frontman Caleb Harper makes lyrical allusions to Paul Simon and performs slow, guitar-driven confessions that evoke Julien Baker, but with enough Aussie jangle to keep things out of pastiche territory.

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‘Hardlight’, a clear standout from the album, channels The War on Drugs’ reverb and layered guitar to illustrate the lingering, meaningless ache of depression. “She asks, ‘what could be this bad there’s nothing wrong?’,” Harper recalls, “I just feel low.” The off-kilter but catchy guitar-pop chorus perfectly captures the appeal of Spacey Jane: You find yourself singing along, but not necessarily because you want to.

Two-thirds through the album, we’re left begging, pleading for a reprieve. Our prayers are partially answered: ‘Haircut’ marks a turning point in Harper’s series of narratives as he asks for the serenity to accept the things he can’t change and takes the first steps for the better. By the end, with the summery ‘Pulling Through’, we’re left with the early pages of a new chapter: “If it feels like failure then it’s probably good for you / If it tears your heart out then you’re probably pulling through.

‘Here Comes Everybody’ offers promising development from Spacey Jane, singers and songwriters: Harper’s fuller use of his vocal range and new instrumentation, like the synth in the background on several songs and the banjo on ‘Bothers Me’, keeps it fresh and engaging (though their reliance on a verse-chorus structure endures). Guidance from pop producer Konstantin Kersting (who works here alongside ‘Sunlight’ producer Dave Parkin) has no doubt drawn out stronger harmonies from Peppa Lane and solos from guitarist Ashton Hardman-Le Cornu, which are warmly welcome.

Thematically, though, the record leaves lots of room for Spacey Jane to explore new ideas. ‘Sunlight’ had already embraced this contrast of bleak themes with upbeat guitar music, and ‘Here Comes Everybody’ does much of the same. Confessional songwriters can’t help themselves from writing about mental health or coming-of-age struggles – but, at the risk of sounding like a downer, a third album with the same themes could risk sameness and tedium.

Harper has said he wrote these songs looking out rather than in, in an attempt to capture the dread and uncertainty about the future Australian youth are feeling right now. By bringing together the band’s penchant for thoughtful lyrics with a grain of optimism towards the end, ‘Here Comes Everybody’ empathetically salutes a “little unhappy and severely underpaid” generation, as ‘It’s Been A Long Day’ puts it, that’s grappling with the mistakes and decisions of their predecessors. Hopefully they finish the record feeling more comfort than they had before pressing play.

Details

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  • Release date: June 24
  • Record label: AWAL Recordings
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