By Brian Tucker
As a song “Candy Flip” is hypnotic dynamite, sounding as though it came across the pond versus a relatively new band in Brooklyn called Spires. The debut single from the neo-psych pop band is a testament to songs born of inspiration and brevity. Singer and guitarist Matt Stevenson said he wrote lyrics to “Candy Flip” on the back of a receipt during a subway ride to the recording studio.
“They just came from gibberish, really,” Stevenson said. “I wanted lyrics that matched the music well. I had a very specific rhythm section in my head for that song so I found a chord on the guitar that matched it well and just kind of built from there.”
It’s really good gibberish. The picturesque and spacey poetry floats over free-flowing guitar work and music drenched with dusty ambiance. Stevenson’s vocals (and his echoed refrain that tempers it) have a breathless quality where he sings with purposeful and effective pauses. Dreamy with an apocalyptic feel, Stevenson begins it singing “Sleep, That’s an option I don’t need/Stay, Never abandon me/I was convinced you were a hypnotist and I’d stay like this forever.”
“Our synth and guitar player Michael Goodman thinks the song is about falling in love. I’ll go with that.”
The band’s music is in part older styles made new again. Also congruous is Stevenson’s approach in making music with limited resources. The self-taught 23-year old musician has lived in and around New York City his whole life, playing the same guitar since age thirteen.
“And the same few pedals for almost as long,” Stevenson said. “I’d love to upgrade at some point but that stuff is expensive. Luckily, you don’t need a whole lot of equipment to write music.”
Less is more is working out well. “Candy Flip” makes Spires sound as though they’ve been around a long time, creating well defined, lush sounding material. They only have only two tracks out, a 7-inch (and digital) release, but Stevenson adds the band’s other songs are psychedelic but “a bit shorter and catchier.”
Spires played a lot of gigs around New York City, receiving attention for their live show, namely at last year’s CMJ annual music marathon where they were hailed as a breakout artist. The attention helped land an agent which saw the band added as support acts on better bills. Still, playing in New York is difficult.
“It’s definitely hard to get people to notice or care about what you’re doing. We played close to forty shows in New York last year. It was definitely worth it. We’re not really like any other band in New York and I think a lot of people here just want to listen to whatever some blog tells them to like,” Stevenson said. “The biggest hurdle is all this extra stuff that comes with playing music. You meet a lot of people that are intensely full of shit, promise to help your band and then end up doing absolutely nothing. I don’t mean to sound ungrateful, but some things get really tiring. Writing songs and playing shows is still a lot of fun.”
While the infectious “Candy Flip” sounds psychedelic, it has a shoegazey vibe and a reverberating backbeat that recalls Oasis. Laid back, floating like a boat adrift, it stands in contrast to their “Comic Book,” a slinky and sexy sounding song. Just over a year old, their music has a large persona, a wall of sound. Stevenson thinks the band sounds better in larger rooms but that it all depends on the crowd.
“Since we’re such a new band most audiences we play to have never heard us before, but response has been pretty good,” Stevenson said. “I can’t say for sure that our sound strikes audiences as something new but I think it definitely strikes them as something different.”