Album Review: Spearmint – Are You from The Future?

Spearmint‘s single off their forthcoming new album, ‘Are You From The Future?’ is the unexpectedly swinging and extremely funky ’24 Hours in A and E’, which sets the pace for a quirky, delightful and often self-deprecatingly humorous album. A blistering stab of an opening song to launch a brilliant album.

‘Are You From The Future?’ itself is packed full of the freshest, brightest indie pop masterpieces and an ageless and an instant classic. ’24 Hours in A and E’ may not represent the tone and pace of the ensuing songs but certainly reflects the powerful and mature songwriting in Spearmint.

Spearmint say on their website: We’re not part of any scene or movement, we don’t do cover versions, and we don’t do encores. We are trying to make perfect Pop which means something, trying to capture bits of life and play them back to you in three minute bursts. We mostly fail, but sometimes we succeed and we’d love you to join our club.

Utterly endearing and a club I’d like to join.

Singer and song-writer, Shirley Lee, says of the single:

“It was written when we were half-way through actually recording the album. I was so proud of the song, especially the structure, which I think is unique. I was worried that band … wouldn’t get it, and would want to change it to make it more orthodox. But they all got it straight away, it was a pleasure to work on, and makes the perfect opener to the album”,

A strong swirl of strings defines this and many of the tracks on the album: lending a sweeping landscape to the glorious pallet, riding on top of crispy acoustic guitars and glorious tales of the travails of life.

Indeed, the album’s themes are redolent at times of the same weary and resigned tone of bands exploring the vicissitudes of middle-aged life, like The National: often hopelessness romantic, often bleakly observational: resigned at the state of the modern world and yet somehow optimistic and life-affirming.

Spearmint are cut from the same cloth as bands like UK Squeeze, the aforementioned The National, Lightning Seeds, The Go-Betweens and Belle and Sebastian: intelligent pop for the jaded and cynical. They are not newcomers: veterans of more than twenty years, bubbling under the surface attracting critical acclaim but dodging commercial success. Lee says:

“Somebody compared us to those soldiers who were still in the forest years later, because they didn’t realise the war was over. I get that, but for us there never was an army, let alone a war… we never were part of a movement, or part of a scene, we’ve been on our own all the way… and we still are. It sometimes makes it hard financially, but it’s worth it. We’ve been happily ignored most of the time, but it’s allowed us to just get on with it.”

Every song on ‘Are You from The Future?’ is a melodious pop delight: wry observations on politics, love, longing and loss wrapped in glorious cloak of strings and rhythm. Spearmint are a revelation and an institution. I have a sense of regret that I have only now come across this band, and yet a sense of excitement and anticipation at the prospect of discovering their back catalog.

Spearmint are Shirley Lee (singing, guitar), Simon Calnan (singing, keyboards), James Parsons (bass, artwork) and Ronan Larvor (drums).  They are playing live at the legendary Water Rats in London on 14th November.

The new album is released on 1 November and you can pre-order from the band’s own HitBACK label

‘Are You From The Future’ track-listing:
1, 24 Hours in A and E
2, Pick The Papers Up
3, Senseless
4, Fireflies
5, Thomas
6, I Don’t Sleep Well Without You
7, Boom Boom Boom
8, As I Write This
9, St Thomas In The Darkness
10, I Met A Boy
11, The West Pier
12, It Won’t Happen To Me

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