Spacey Jane – ‘Sunlight’ review: huge songs at no expense of heartfelt honesty

The Australian band careen from freewheeling joy to angsty vulnerability on their debut album

Since the release of 2017’s ‘Feeding The Family’, a wonky-indie gem with buckets of personality, Spacey Jane have been a band gleefully tearing up the rulebook. Over a trio of EPs, the Fremantle gang expanded their horizons and toyed with what’s expected of an Australian garage-rock band: 2018’s ‘In The Meantime’ confidently leaned into the world of arena rock and ‘In The Slight’ dabbled with folk, emo and the decadence of ’00s indie. It should come as no surprise then that their debut full-length ‘Sunlight’ bundles up all that greedy excitement and keeps the party moving.

Across the album there are festival-ready songs that embrace a freewheeling joy. The opening ‘Good For You’ is a driving anthem, all frantic guitar solos and rough-around-the-edges grit. Vocalist Caleb Harper promises, “One day I’ll be good for you, ’til then we’re sleeping rough,” in a burst of youthful optimism. The aching ‘Head Cold’ dials up the fuzz and wants to get out and see the world, while ‘Straightfaced’ dances to the same beat as Catfish And The Bottlemen’s ‘7’.

But there’s more to this record than purely chasing the roar of a crowd. ‘Booster Seat’ is a reflective number that explores feelings of trust, guilt and losing control. “And if it wasn’t for that time in the taxi, when you called it out, you said it was anxiety,” sings Harper atop the trembling reach of the guitar before the teenage angst of ‘Love Me Like I Haven’t Changed’ pairs dream pop and grunge with surprisingly brilliant results. “I’m still the same kid, born and raised / Before I ate up all this fear and rage,” insists Harper, doing his best Smashing Pumpkins impression before admitting, “there’s nothing left to hide behind.”

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That’s certainly true of ‘Wasted On Me’, a pop-punk facing bout of emotional vulnerability that sounds like Modern Baseball meets The Kooks, and the twinkling march of ‘Hanging’, a song of struggle and paralysing fear (“You ask of me, when will I feel love again? / But I can’t say that it’s hard enough to feel okay”). Elsewhere the closing lament of the title track picks through the ashes of a doomed relationship and never feels the need to offer hope.

As huge as Spacey Jane sound on ‘Sunlight’, it’s never at the expense of their heartfelt honesty. All the jagged edges of conflicting genres are somehow smoothed out under their command and there’s not a moment of their ambitious vision that feels uncomfortable.

Details

Spacey Jane Sunlight album cover art

  • Release date: June 12
  • Record label: Independent
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