Spokes – People Like People Like You (Counter)
Strangely for an unashamed post-rock collection of hammer ‘n’ tongers, Spokes are at their best when they’re nimble. With most exponents of the genre, it’s the slow builds to zeniths that make people fall for them (though there’s a strong argument that suggests that there’s little left that will truly shock or satisfy at the end of these builds, such is the collective wont for sheer unexpected noise among the genre), but this Manchester quintet are at their most potent when they ignore the tenets one would expect them most likely to adhere to. Sadly, this is not especially often and, as a whole, People Like People Like You doesn’t play with the conventions enough to escape being a mere copycat.
The long-winded climax to Sometimes Words Are Too Slow has the same tom-tom march and literally the exact same Menuck guitar tone as Godspeed You Black Emperor!’s opening to Lift Yr Skinny Fists, but with little of the menace. It eeks along at a snail’s pace without resounding triumphantly enough to give the audience a sense of achievement, a mouse that should have shouted. They tread a similar path to Yndi Halda, whose still-indebted post-rock sound is at least far more impassioned and worthily complex – the odd dash of directionless violin melody on Young People! All Together doesn’t so much add to the atmosphere as it does confuse it by pointless meandering.
Of course, there are moments that ring of invention within the confines of their chosen field. The sudden gear change four minutes before the end of Young People! All Together is a genuine mood-enhancer, with the unexpected vocals (the first in the whole album after some considerable instrumentalism) and unison thwacks of snare and shimmering guitar emerging as very welcome chaos. That nimbleness doesn’t make many more appearances on this continual reference to already-existing standards. All the greats of instrumental rock get a namecheck through musical timbre, whether it’s Explosions In The Sky at the end of Scatter: I Miss You or the winding violin of Godspeed on We Like To Dance And Steal Things. A shame, because when they push themselves up onto their hind legs and totter into view, they can create worthiness.
People Like People Like You comes out on April 6th via Counter Records (as a reissue, mind). More here.