Talk about discombobulating! Have you ever wondered what would happen if Spiritual Beggers (specifically the Christian “Spice” Sjöstrand era) came across a Magic 8 Ball, a Time-Out Machine (T.O.M) and a little vial of liquid black rock, and after much consultation with the 8 Ball decided to don their headbands and flared jeans and jump back to the 70s to hang out and jam with Led Zep? Well, to be brutally honest, I can’t say this really crossed my mind until I came across a rather eye-catching album in the promo bin fairly recently. Adorned in nifty purple retro artistry, Band of Spice is the latest project of Swedish singer and songwriter Spice (Kayser and ex-Spiritual Beggars) and Economic Dancers is their second full album release under this moniker. Throw into the mix a concept that touches on abuse, hope, hopelessness, weakness and strength. One of living life to the fullest and not relying on safety nets, of staying sane despite the odds and you have a window into the weird and wonderful hard rocking journey you’re about to embark on.
“Economic Dancer” and “True Will” get this retro show rumbling, and while they both have the vibe I mentioned earlier, they also have some added quirk that makes them seem like a good fit for a Monster Magnet Last Patrol b-side. Spice’s vocal style is drastically changed up from his Spiritual Beggars days and consider yourself warned, you’ll either love it or hate it. At times he sounds like Monster Magnet‘s Dave Wyndorf, at other times a bit like Brian Fallon (The Gaslight Anthem) with the energy of Adam Duritz (Counting Crows), and then you get tracks like “True Will” where honest to goodness, he sounds like one of Jim Henson’s Muppets impersonating Bob Dylan.
Digging deeper into Economic Dancers, from “On The Run” onwards the album takes an odd turn away from Monster Magnet heading down the path of Heartland rock with blue-collar values and hints to Bruce Springsteen and Bob Dylan. In addition, tracks like “The Joe” and “You Will Call” develop an American punk-rock quality that would see them fitting in well on The Gaslight Anthem‘s The ’59 Sound. Naturally by the back-end of the album, “Fly Away” onwards, Band of Spice winds this influence to a close and moves things more along the lines with what they dished out in “Economic Dancer” and “True Will,” culminating on a screaming downtuned note with big finisher “You Know My Name.” The instrumentation on Economic Dancers is well delivered and everybody does their part and does it well, right down to the Hulk’s organ that pops up in “You Can’t Stop.” The tracks are accessible, uncomplicated and packed to the hilt with good old-fashioned merriment that keeps me coming back.
The production is suited to the album, slightly fuzzed out, organic, dirty and authentic for the styles Band of Spice have blended together, and boy are there many of those! Despite these boys being a band I’ve never heard of before now, Economic Dancers feels like an album I’ve been waiting for, for sometime… maybe even since hearing The Gaslight Anthem‘s The ’59 Sound back in 2008 or Monster Magnet‘s Last Patrol more recently. At any rate, it’s tough to find much to bash when it comes to Economic Dancers, but “Intro – The Joe” is a slightly throwaway moment, but a very brief one.
Love or hate this evil clown’s new vocal style, Spice impressed me with his work on Spiritual Beggars and he continues to impress this angry reviewer with his new venture, Band of Spice. I’m waiting with bated breath for more Spice and so should you!
DR: 7 | Format Reviewed: 160 kbps mp3
Label: Scarlet Records
Websites: No Internet Presence
Release Dates: Out Worldwide: 04.14.2015