Recordings | September 2015

By Cait Brennan, September 2015 Issue.

Spectacular Spectacular

Blur | 

For all-female dream-pop trio Spectacular Spectacular, the band name says it all. Jessica De Grasse, Millie Chan and Isley Reust founded the band in San Francisco back in 2012. They’ve since relocated to Los Angeles and have become one of the most hotly tipped bands in town. Besides being a brilliant songwriter and musician, Reust is a multitalented artist who was featured (alongside your humble correspondent) in Laura Jane Grace’s AOL Originals series True Trans, and her compelling life story as an out trans artist has earned her still more fans. If there’s any justice in the world, the dark beauty of Blur will add to that fame.

There’s a tres-cool cinematic vibe here, recalling the soundtrack to some great lost ‘60s cult films – the lovely vocals evoke a world-wise weariness that is impossible to resist, and the songwriting is top notch. With its infectious mix of analog reverb and electropop bounce, the opening single, “Wake Me Up,” is an urgent, Ennio Morricone-esque giddyup, a desperate, dizzying escape with time running out. The spooky, hypnotic disco vibe of “Orange Juice” is music for a dead-can-dancefloor. “Show me the monsters inside of you,” De Grasse sings like a mantra. It’s one of the album’s finest and most compelling moments.

Not since Mazzy Star has dream pop been this good. There’s a palpable sense of mystery and peril here, like driving on some uncharted back road on a starless night. The songs aren’t afraid of the dark, though you might be. “All The Way” is total emotional crush, intimate, ethereal and full of longing. “The Dark Moon” is a dreamscape, with harmonies the Cocteau Twins would envy, while the powerful string arrangement on “50” underlines lyrics like “in the darkest of nights, your underworld is waiting … if you tempt it you’re a dead man.”

The rocking “Saturday Night” perks things up considerably, recalling Sleater-Kinney in a two-car pileup with Garbage, with Shirley Manson coming out on top, but just barely.

Ultimately, Blur is a record that isn’t afraid to get to emotional truth, wherever it leads. “If you could just tell me the truth, it wouldn’t have to hurt so bad,” she sings on the acoustic title-track closer, a dark night of the soul if ever there was one. The album is available on iTunes and at

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