Album Review: Spookyland – Beauty Already Beautiful

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The first time I heard Spookyland, I didn’t get it. Weird voice, skyrocketing guitars, overtly epic atmosphere – why is everyone losing their shit over this? Spookyland was the sort of band that folks were going out of their way to tell you about, regaling you with tales of this skinny Sydney lad sporting high cheekbones and a heavy leather jacket, who could hold a crowd in the palm of his hand. I’d chuck on “The Silly Fucking Thing”, and I couldn’t see it.

Then, after one fateful night at The Lansdowne, it clicked. Whatever piece was previously missing snapped into place for me, and I was on board the Spookyland bandwagon. It was the same phenomenon that had occurred with some of my favourite bands like Radiohead and The Birthday Party; one second, you’re pissed off that none of it makes sense, and then the band manages to inject something that allows you to immerse into the crowd of believers, the cult of Good ShitTM.

For me, what it comes down to is the power that Spookyland exude. It’s not the same sort of power that’d you’d get from a Stooges or a Metallica record, but something more sophisticated. It’s thought out, developing over the course of a song, so that by the time Marcus Gordon and co. hit their finale, your spine is bent permanently out of place. It’s the way that voice twists and turns, reverting from mourning to triumphant in the space of a verse and chorus; how the guitars crash and burn like the sea in the grips of that 1000 Year Swell that Patrick Swyaze always spoke about.

There’s a nice range on Beauty Already Beautiful, but Spookyland always manage to retain a definitive style. They range from the cymbal-crash, lip-curled country swagger of “Big Head” and “Can’t Own You”, to the more poignant moments of “True”, to the glowing anthems of “God’s Eyes” and “Champions”, which show off Spookyland’s strength in holding their strengths to their chests and picking the absolute right moment to unleash hellishly good moments. And let’s not forget about the fucking one-two-fuck-you of “Bulimic” that doesn’t just knock you out cold, but pummels you into the dust. Two – read it, fucking TWO – minutes of unrelenting shredding, each note reaching right through your soul and individually tugging at the hairs that course your body in an effort to say, “OI, ARE YOU LISTENING TO THIS!??? HOW GOOD IS IT!????”

Spookyland have got their signature style down to a T. It’s delivered in a spectacular and unique fashion, and when they reach that bit further, you’d be hard pressed to find a dry eye in the room. Don’t be a fool – if you don’t get it, don’t wait around like I did for these blokes to come around and smack you in the face with the Good ShitTM. Sit down, put the headphones on, and make sure that this band rattles your being to the core like I know they can.

Also their highly recommended live show is coming to Sydney and Melbourne, with the extra punch of YEEVS opening both shows. Spooky land play the Newtown Social Club tonight (11 May), and tomorrow at Shebeen.

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