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A review of...
Spear In The City by Bodies Of Water
Bodies of Water haven't released a Bodies of Water album since 2011's Twist Again. That's not to say the band haven't been busy in the interim, they've apparently recorded a "trove" of music but this set of songs was the first to be deemed in need of an audience. They (or a large chunk of the band) also released the magnificent Impressions under the pseudonym Music Go Music back in 2014. But where Music Go Music sees the the core members of the band (namely David and Meredith Metcalf) unleash their pop and disco personas, Bodies of Water was always a place for those more sweeping epic compositions. David Metcalf describes the music as Gospel, and whilst it's not gospel as you've heard it before, you can see where he's coming from. There's a certain presence running through their music which can feed the soul and lift the spirits.
On this fourth album, the highs don't get quite as euphoric and the overall vibe is much more subdued (especially when compared to their towering call to arms A Certain Feeling, which came out way back in 2008), but there's still that unmistakable sense of hope which prevails over most of Spear In The City. It's also a much sparser sounding record to the ones that came before it with opening track "Dark Water" being a case in point. Starting with a lonely drum beat and eventually complimented by some solemn piano stabs and an ominous vocal that sings of destruction and flooding, or possibly a new beginning. It's a slightly unnerving and disorientating introduction, especially after a 6 year gap, but slowly, and gradually we get glimpses of the Bodies of Water trademarks that we know and love, it's just packaged up differently. 2017 is, after all, a very different time to be alive in.
Another early, and downbeat, moment of genius is "I'm Set Free" where David Metcalf releases his inner Scott Walker with a vocal turn that dominates a melody which trots along inconspicuously. The song culminates with the band, now built up to a gallop, declaring that they are free from a variety of electronic dance music genres. It's probably best not to try and second guess this band to be honest.
In terms of vocals, Meredith Metcalf isn't quite as centre stage here as she has been on some past recordings, especially on the Music Go Music releases (highly recommended), but her backing vocals are still undeniably a major influence in the band's distinct sound and continued success. Her contributions often push the music into those higher states of delirium but also offer more toned down touches to tracks like "Spear In The City" (which sounds an awful lot like Lou Reed's Perfect Day).
With Spear In The City, Bodies of Water have returned, slightly jaded but with a degree of optimism and - all importantly - a set of songs which lives up to their impressive back catalogue. It's not as instantly gratifying as some of their previous records but stick with it and the rewards will come rolling in.