Illinois’ Spitalfield have carved themselves nicely into the pop punk tree. Ever since the release of 2003’s Remember Right Now, their brand of breezily accessible pop tunes emblazoned with the occasional searing guitar cut has given them the right kind of exposure and continued momentum to build upon. As they launch their brand new LP, the rather awkwardly titled, Better Than Knowing Where You Are, Spitalfield have established that while their music is certainly easy to get into, it is by no means sagging with the burden of being labeled “Nickelodeon” punk. And immediately apparent from the release is how comfortably Spitalfield appears to be in their designation- somewhere between guilty pleasure and enjoyable, easy listening rock.
First single, “Secret In Mirrors,” is a slow moving amalgam of mid-paced rock and sugary MTV melodies and is a fitting way to showcase slight maturity in their music. The album gets its much needed pep from tunes like “The Only Thing That Matters” and “On the Floor” that harkens back to the catchy, up-tempo numbers found on Remember Right Now. It’s a formula repeated again on “Tell Me Clarice” and “Curtain Call,” songs that try their best to get the ‘go’ into the mix. Their Jimmy Eat World influences are made as clear as day on tracks “Lasting First Impression” and “Hold On,” both relying more on slower harmonies and a gradual build up to its respective apexes (the latter tune being their best impressions of Jimmy Eat World’s slower radio hits).
Lyrically, Spitalfield get a bit queasy; doe-eyed all the time, fluffy puffy rhymes found in your very straightforward yet no less painful (un)romantic inklings of ‘teener types; “You picked out your favorite dress / Made yourself up your very best … I know you’re dying to be / Broken and let down by me.” So while they’ve found comfort in musical maturity, their lyrics seem to remain within the Teen Beat slash quasi-romance type that will surely turn away anyone older than fourteen. It’s the most frustrating aspect of their music because their sometimes great tunes become so excessively bogged down by poor lyrics that the whole experience becomes a turn off.
While their shortcomings are rather less than subtle, the lack of depth is covered up nicely with their overall zeal for writing excessively catchy and accessible rock tunes. And make no mistake, there’s enough rock of the briskful kind to keep those listening entertained. Spitalfield, like a temperate autumn day, is a soothing blend of easy listening that’s certainly great for the brief duration of the season. Either you really like the sight of falling leaves and the gentle hum of the wind across your face, or it will really just piss you off.