Spitfire - Cult Fiction
Record Label: Goodfellow Records
Release Date: March 24, 2008
Attending Underoath's 2006 summer headlining tour, I was stoked to get to see Spitfire. I'd only had the band's new record Self-Help for a few months, but was fully enthralled into the rhythm and sheer intensity of it; I wasn't disappointed in the live show either. I couldn't figure out how in the world guitarist Matt Beck was bending the neck of his guitar with what looked like ease, and not breaking it.
Two years later, Spitfire have released Cult Fiction. What Spitfire have done differently with this release is they added "rest" around their songs. Unlike 2006's Self-Help, it doesn't feel like you're being beaten over the head with a hammer with every crushing riff and breakdown. This is both an upside and a downside: those bone-shattering starts, stops and fret-play were what turned me, and I would think many, on to Spitfire and made Self-Help a personal favorite of the year. At times the slowed tracks that lie throughout Cult Fiction take away from the heaviness that Spitfire is just so damn good at.
Vocalist Jon Spencer is still raspy and keen to repetitiveness, a ploy used by bands like the Handshake Murders and the better-known early Norma Jean albums. Spencer uses each line like a measure or phrase for an instrument. It has distinct rhythm, and angles around the rest of his band. In fact, I love this ploy; he uses that function of the mouth on this album, but displays some crooning. He even steps up and uses that repetitiveness through rhythm of a longer phrase than short little quirks that many of the better known bands of this sound use.
As for the bulk of sonic drifts across the fret board, they are still there, even without Norma Jean's Scottie Henry. The band did it before him, and they have pulled it off again. At times, I'm not sure who's more frantic: Spencer, or guitarist Beck and Dan Tulloh (who played bass on Self-Help). It's like the band is fighting each other to see who can display more urgency. And that "rest" I was referring to is the bell for a chance to sit and catch a breath.
For conclusive purposes, Cult Fiction is another great staple in the band's career. The album may not live up to previous work for some because of the seconds, or even whole songs, of instrumental breath wedged between the real meat fans have come to enjoy. With what seems like an ever-revolving door for the band, the album may not go down as their cornerstone, but proves they are damn good at what they do live and on record.
this album rules, i love how spencer references scarlet's something to lust about and cult classic as long as keeping the theme going with self help and now cult fiction. and i feel like the instrumental and ambient songs make the cd better rather than taking away from it.