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Album Review: Cold Specks - I Predict A Graceful Expulsion

29 May 2012 | 5:45 pm | Brendan Telford

At any rate, Cold Specks is an anomaly on the popular music scene – rich in timbre and commitment, tangible and resolutely beautiful.

Cold Specks is the nom de plume of singer/songwriter Al Spx, which is in itself a pseudonym. Yet the mystery goes deeper, for a name like Cold Specks derives a notion of idleness and glitch, a band for the darkwave generation. Instead what their debut I Predict A Graceful offers is a unique take on soul (already uniquely labelled as doom-soul), infused with a self-taught fragility that's usually beat out of today's pop divas by the time they start wearing sports bras.

Spx's voice is strangely alluring as it wavers between a breathy murmur, a soulful croon and a broken quaver, sometimes in the same song, yet all delivered with a deliberate, glacial calm that washes over and invades the senses. Opening track The Mark is a strangely understated introduction, yet the one-two punch of singles Heavy Hands (which mirrors Cat Power's emotive control) and album highlight Winter Solstice launches us more readily into Spx's doleful terrain. The instrumentation is relatively stark, relying on Spx's spartan guitar playing for the most part, whilst occasionally being augmented by piano, percussion and string interludes. Things aren't always plain sailing – whilst on their own most tracks, like the rousing Hector or cathartic Blank Maps, stand tall, there becomes a sense of familiarity when they stand side by side that dims their intensity. At times these songs roll through the smoke of dawn with a weariness that breaks the heart; at others it's the tonal delivery from Spx that matters more than the story.

At any rate, Cold Specks is an anomaly on the popular music scene – rich in timbre and commitment, tangible and resolutely beautiful.