"I Predict A Graceful Expulsion is an honest, inspiring and surprisingly spiritual album, laden with spellbinding arrangements that harness [Cold Specks'] potency and haunting talent."
The mysterious Cold Specks (aka Al Spx) has emerged from a fuzzy background of self-taught music in Toronto to deliver her mesmerising debut, I Predict A Graceful Expulsion. The 11-track album was conceived under a variety of other pseudonyms, including The Hotel Ghost and Basket Of Figs, but her current embodiment as Cold Specks seems to be working, with this release being visibly nurtured and arranged to bring out her raw talent and spectacular lyricism, self described as “doom soul”.
While the album is undoubtedly gloomy, Spx's vocal restraint and subtlety keep her often-macabre lyrics stunningly beautiful. Opener, The Mark is a skeletal arrangement of acoustic guitar and sorrowful strings as Spx croons to us “Take my body home”. This nuanced minimalism is followed in Winter Solstice, before opening out into a rousing, chaingang rhythm, beautifully harmonised by sonorous backing vocals and steady, thumping drums. Her vocals progress from sweet intimacy - “I saw your grandfather's death on the news” - to smoky, defiant and persuasive; “Sons and daughters/I put my hand over my chest”. Elephant Head, where the title of the album originates, shows us Spx's vocal power as she effortlessly moves between sparse verses and sweeping orchestral choruses, always remaining centred within the sound and expressing her conviction and quiet confidence. While Elephant Head is a high point of the album, you remain entranced until the very end, with the finale, Lay Me Down, confirming Spx's death obsession, but reminding us that while the album may be morose, it refreshingly avoids self-indulgence or transparency. Instead, I Predict A Graceful Expulsion is an honest, inspiring and surprisingly spiritual album, laden with spellbinding arrangements that harness her potency and haunting talent.