Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Album Review: Spraynard - Exton Square

Album Rating: A-
As mentally advanced human beings, many of us tend to over-think things. Most non-human animals are assumed to be fairly simpleminded in comparison, as their only concern is to survive; they think for the moment, while we humans project and calculate for the future. “Will my life be worth it in the end?” “Will I ever be happy?” These are just two of many questions we ask ourselves on a daily basis. Luckily, Spraynard are here with their newest EP, Exton Square, to shed some light on humanity’s dilemmas. Essentially, the band’s message is to put your worries aside and simply do what you can: lend your friends a hand when needed, don’t let some stupid girl ruin your life, and most importantly, always try, no matter how worn down you get.

While Spraynard’s previous release, Funtitled, was predominantly positive and upbeat, Exton Square’s cheerful mood has been toned down. The four new tracks resonate with childhood nostalgia, but also the exhaustion of adult life. A more introspective lyrical direction exhibits Spraynard’s maturation, as they continue on their quest for life’s answers through trial and error. Warm instrumentals and dynamic, catchy guitar lines accompanied by Pat Graham’s bouncy vocals all mesh together to create the band’s most focused release yet. “Can I Get a Feeling” effectively kicks off the EP as Spraynard’s longest and most diverse track to date. Soft vocals and a swelling organ persist until a muffled drum beat kicks the track into a head-bobbing sing-along complete with dual vocal harmonies and lyrics stressing self-improvement. The song builds up high expectations for the rest of the EP, and while the tracks that follow are not quite as varied, they continue to verify Spraynard’s capability of creating fun and musically interesting punk rock songs.

Exton Square excels because it is not simply another Spraynard record; there is evident progression. New lyrical and instrumental ideas are scattered throughout, but the charm and overall feeling created by listening to three normal guys playing music have not been lost. “You Can’t Get There From Here,” perfectly captures the energy present on Funtitled through fast-paced and offensively catchy verses, but features a cleaner vocal approach. Straight-laced and literal lyrics in the EP closer, “Intents and Purposes (Three Words),” such as, “Sometimes I write down every goal I have to feel a little better about how I spend my time,” affirm likeminded listeners (such as myself) of their sanity, and create an undeniably pleasant atmosphere. The end result of honest, relatable thoughts combined with such likeable presentation is an EP that, in addition to being contagious and enjoyable, produces an overall feeling of comfort for the listener. Ultimately, Exton Square demonstrates everything that Spraynard hinted at being capable of on their last release, with the one downside being the EP’s short length.

1. Can I Borrow A Feeling
2. You Can't Get There From Here
3. Trembling
4. Intents and Purposes (Three Words)

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