With the release of its debut album, Bad Penny (Slumberland), Spectrals channels ’50s-’60s doo-wop and mixes it up with flavors of indie pop, creating a release full of pleasantly nostalgic love songs. The man behind Spectrals, 21-year-old Yorkshire-native Louis Jones, admits that love songs are the kind he favors. Jones found inspiration from childhood memories of listening to the Rolling Stones, Elvis Costello and the Ronettes, and his love for love songs shines through on all 11 tracks of this album. Bad Penny examines relationships and romance through Jones’ own retro indie pop-rock lens, swaying a little from his lo-fi Myspace beginnings and becoming more easily accessible without losing Spectrals’ appeal.
Sounding a bit like fellow Brit Alex Turner’s the Last Shadow Puppets, Bad Penny has a similar retro feel with a more mellow approach. Jones’ accented vocals are a bit more fittingly monotone for the gloomy verses of “Get A Grip” as he croons, “I need to get a grip/I always seem to let my smile slip,” full of melancholic romanticism. Somewhat bluesy guitar melodies, short, rolling drums from Jones’ brother Will and a gentle piano riff feed into the ’60s feel on “Lockjaw,” as Jones lackadaisically contemplates the problems with missing something he never had. “Big Baby” is heavy on the bass drum with surf-pop guitars and a youthful feel. More upbeat than some of the other tracks, “Big Baby” still sticks to the lovelorn theme as Jones sings, “‘Cause I’m a big baby/’Cause, girl, that’s what you made me/Why, why, why?”
Groovy, bouncing guitars and echoing vocals introduce “Doing Time,” with chiming keys and jangling tambourines. “Confetti” is another quicker, upbeat track full of more buoyant guitar melodies, light cymbals and heavier drumming from Will Jones, as well as a vibrant keyboard riff. Welcoming confetti for the “fun” of courting a girl, “Confetti”‘s clever lyrics make it one of the more animated tracks on Bad Penny. Spectrals’ debut is mellow and accessible without being boring even though it has less fuzz than fans might be used to.