News From Nowhere
added: 24 May 2014
// release date: 26 May 2014 // label: HitBACK
reviewer: David Spencer
A few years ago Spearmint were referenced in the film (500) Days Of Summer, when Joseph Gordon-Levitt decried what a poor world it was where no-one had heard of the band. As if to underline the point, many people watching may not have understood the reference - or even thought his character was talking about chewing gum. Even those truly faithful to the music of the mid-nineties might have missed Spearmint, even though their 1999 album A Week Away is somewhat revered by those that did find them on their radar.
News From Nowhere marks their return after eight years - with lead man Shirley Lee releasing solo material in the intervening years. They also returned in-between for a few live shows to mark ten years since A Week Away was released. Their seventh album sticks faithfully to their familiar sound, where nineties jangly guitars abound. The fact that the sound hasn't moved on is part of the problem here. While the likes of My Anger and Tony Wright have their moments, it all sounds a little underwhelming.
On Children of the Sixties, Children of the Seventies there is a reference to US art-rockers Talking Heads, a band that surely influence some of their sound. But there is none of David Byrne's humour or spark. News from Nowhere is said to be more political than previous releases - with Lee critical of animal cruelty and consumer society. But there's no anger, which might have helped. Spearmint are held in very high regard by a small cluster of fans - and it seems that is likely to remain the case after this.
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