Jurassic Pop Records / Winspear
It’s hard telling how many sweaty van rides Aaron Denton and Ben Lumsdaine have endured over the past few years. The two Bloomington-based multi-instrumentalists are both a part of Mike Adams At His Honest Weight, with Lumsdaine also playing drums in the newly Bloomington-ized Diane Coffee and Indy’s Sophie Faught Trio, as well.
Between tours, however, these two stayed busy, writing thoughtful pop songs in a rented closet under the name Spissy.
Formerly known as Wet Blankets, Denton and Lumsdaine’s last studio effort came in 2012 via Crossroads of America Records. In a five-song EP titled Sheepy Love, Wet Blankets gave listeners a small taste of how great a match these two are for each other, combining Denton’s knack for writing irresistible hooks with Lumsdaine’s instinctive grasp of arrangement and atmosphere. Now, after some maturation and a name change, the duo returns with a full-length that is most certainly deserving of national recognition.
Set for a March 18 release via Jurassic Pop Records and Winspear, the debut Spissy record builds upon what was started with Wet Blankets, while also moving forward in the best ways possible. The release’s shimmering first track “Circling The Square” sets the tone for the rest of the album’s 11-track duration as Denton and Lumsdaine tap into their aforementioned strengths. With feathery, Toro y Moi-adjacent vocals, Denton reels in the listener time and time again throughout the album, presenting choruses that feel fondly familiar yet still refreshing. This is heard in several of the songs standout tracks, including the doo-wop leaning “Her Heart” and the eerie, synth-driven “Sophie.”
These pop elements are enhanced by tasteful texturing and colorful instrumentation. In “Her Heart,” for example, the listener is gently seduced with a rather straightforward verse/chorus progression before being pleasantly surprised by a Destroyer-like sax solo that brings thoughts of Destroyer to mind. Later on, beautiful string arrangements surface in songs like “Exactly What It Is” and “Origami.” Amidst the album’s prettier moments, however, Spissy still gives the listener plenty of tunes to roll the windows down and jam to, including the blissful “Grapefruit” and the sax-accentuated “The Feeling.” In the context of the album, these tracks are carefully placed, too, ultimately making for a top-to-bottom listen that’s both engaging and enjoyable.