Spring Offensive – Pull Us Apart
Release Date: June 21, 2011
Record Label: Burning Building Recordings
Spring Offensive is an Oxford-based indie quintet that developed a cult following throughout the U.K. due to their poignant compositions and insatiable touring appetite. With the support of Seattle indie label Burning Building Records, Spring Offensive is now making its mark in the U.S. with the June re-release of their melancholic debut Pull Us Apart, an album that casts moody atmospheres by fusing elements of post- and math rock with creative and imagery-laden storytelling. The result is an evocative eight-song debut that, while occasionally lacking in instrumental ingenuity, will appeal to fans of bands like This Town Needs Guns and Death Cab For Cutie.
“I Found Myself Smiling” kicks off the album in haunting fashion and serves to showcase the mood-setting ability of vocalist Lucas Whitworth. Above sparse yet unsettling guitar plucking, he continuously repeats “If you want to find your lover/I suggest you slide into the river/Like the rat that you are” in a distressed, if not maniacal tone. However, as the song crescendos towards its eventual climax, Lucas’ approach transcends into something more uplifting. This back and forth is also present on “Every Coin,” as the band explores the case of a man forced to eat the contents of his wallet in a metaphorical quip on societies’ obsession with material wealth. Lucas’ delivery, along with that of guitarists Matt Cooper and Theo Whitworth, alternates from tense and irritated in the verse to subdued and gentle in the chorus.
Spring Offensive deserves full marks for thinking outside the box and delving into unorthodox lyrical themes. “Abacus Rex” is about a crazed mathematician going senile over his work, while “Slow Division” is written from the perspective of shipwrecked sailor sending his last message to shore. Even the token love songs are written tastefully and creatively. In “Everything Other Than This”, Whitworth examines a toxic relationship and how it can blind the combatants from other aspects of life. He eventually concludes that “This unhealthy obsession is a means to our end/And all that I’ve broken I’m desperate to mend/I’ve lost sight of everyone and everything other than this” in a dramatic sequence that surges with passion and self-realization.
Unfortunately, the musicianship on Pull Us Apart fails to match the ambition of its lyrical themes. The album contains a pleasant blend of twangy math rock and atmospheric post rock, but Spring Offensive only scratches the surface of each genre and fails to explore their nuances. The result is a sound that is safe and secure, a concoction that won’t turn anyone off but certainly won’t capture the minds of those looking for a band that is truly dynamic. Thirteen-minute album closer “The First of Many Dreams About Monsters” pursues a variety of different sounds and hopefully stands as a taste of what’s to come, ultimately concluding in a beautiful arrangement of ambient guitar drone and vocal harmonies.
While most bands attempt to capture emotion through cheap musical tricks and banal lyrics, Spring Offensive is on track for something more with their diverse lyrical content and earnest approach. Pull Us Apart is a promising debut and songs like “Every Coin” and “Everything Other Than This” are rousing standouts despite a general lack of musical experimentation throughout the album. If Spring Offensive becomes as confident in their musicianship as they are in their lyrical expression, they could quickly find a place for themselves among the indie rock elite.