Spring King are back with their sophomore album A Better Life, with the Manchester based garage rockers no doubt improving upon their debut release. While I found promise and good signs in Tell Me If You Like To, I was ultimately left wanting and a little disappointed with the album. Not the case here.
‘Static (Intro)’ barely warms you up for the crisp and driven body of work that is to follow. ‘Static’ does have a pretty sexy saxophone riff that is definitely enjoyable, but that quickly gives away to the album’s lead single ‘Animal’, which dropped back in May of this year. The track definitely proved to be a hit and got significant radio play, deservedly so. It still serves as one of the album’s strongest cuts, and immediately kicks into gear, with the infectious energy that oozes from the band. Definitely one I can’t wait to see live.
‘Ready for War’ continues the momentous thrill ride, with Pete Darlington and Andy Morton’s guitars sounding perfectly crunchy and large – which was sometimes lacking on the debut record. “We’re ready for war, yeah we were young”, is belted out by Tarek Musa, and it’s obvious from this opening stanza of tracks, that the boys have learnt lessons from Tell Me and have put together something much more cohesive.
‘Let’s Drink’ eases off the throttle slightly but not off the character, with James Green’s bass sticking out in this super-danceable track. ‘Paranoid’ may just be my favourite track off the album, with one of their catchiest riffs and more tight work from Green on bass, particularly in conjunction with some of Musa’s best drumming on the record. Some of the chorus and bridge vocals can stray a little too close to pop for my liking but the track rights itself in the last section, to still be an album highlight.
‘The Hum’ is another adrenaline ride of a single, with the anthemic cries of “You’ve gotta fight for it” punctuating the driving track, to act as another standout. Musa asks the listener to “Hold on, what have you got? Don’t let your energy drop”, which is quite difficult to do in this opening half of the album, but in the best way possible.
We’re granted another brief reprieve in the form of ‘Lightning (Interlude)’, which is an unexpected but welcome tone change. Featuring a gorgeous choir section oozing above swirling synths, until the boys have had enough and launch back in with another guitar heavy track, ‘Us Vs Them’. The guitars stand out before another anthemic chorus kicks in, with this track not as rapid as the earlier cuts, but working well in the album’s structure, serving as another standout for the record.
‘Thicker Skin’ is another danceable track, while ‘Echo Chamber’ also keeps it moving well, with a standout guitar solo being one of the memorable moments of the album thus far. ‘Have You Ever Looked Up Into The Sky’ is another tonal shift, especially compared to the first half of the album, with the euphoric and much brighter guitar licks standing out.
‘Thunder’ closes the record and is quite a grand track to finish on, with the catchy vocal line “Thunder why’d you have to come and take me away now?”, somewhat ironic after the thunderous tracks that preceded this. In saying that, ‘Thunder’ is actually a great choice for a closing track, as it does feel like the end of a thrill-ride, when you’re just winding down and recovering from the earlier pace of the record.
This second album from Spring King is a marked improvement and polish of their previous debut effort, and that was evident from the first listen. A much more cohesive and structured record, that still manages to keep its tracks around 4 minutes and under, A Better Life simply works. The crunch and grit that was sometimes missing from Tell Me is back in spades, and it just feels like more of a Spring King album. An impressive follow up and hopefully a sign of what’s to come in the future.
A Better Life from Spring King is out Friday the 31st August.
Watch the video for Animal.