Gallery EP - Craft Spells
(2012 Captured Tracks)
Over the years, it seems that only a select few bands have mastered the art of the EP. While indie pop purveyors such as Airiel and Blank Dogs have made a living out of compiling only four to five songs into one release, many times the effort is a bit lackluster. My theory here is that instead of allowing the LP itself to take time to unfold with each song supplementing the other, the limited tracks on the humble EP battle to be recognized. A perfect case is Craft Spells' latest offering, Gallery. Justin Vallesteros apparently couldn't leave good enough alone, and his change in musical style is evident just by looking at the album cover.
An iTunes reviewer put it best. Craft Spells' magical 2011 release, Idle Labor, was simply "a hug in earbuds", so when I saw that the album artwork had taken the dramatic shift from a New Order ripoff to a Cure-influenced abstraction, I admit I was a bit worried. It seems, though, that my fears were rational. While Idle Labor was warm and inviting, Gallery is cold and emotionless.
There are a couple of really good songs on Gallery, but nothing particularly mindblowing as I've come to expect from these dream poppers. "Burst" is as shimmery and dreamy as all-get-out, yet I still can't stop thinking as I listen to it, "Isn't this just In Between Days slowed down?" I guess the Cure really is prevalent in this album after all. "Gallery" is my other favorite track here, meshing slow-burning chords with the tropical elevator music of fellow label-mate Heavenly Beat.
The rest of the EP, sadly, is basically nothing but cookie cutter Craft Spells. "Still Left With Me" sounds eerily similar to "Love Well Spent" at times, and the next track, "Warmth" sounds too much like the song just before it. It's as if a Craft Spells cover band started writing their own material! All this said, though, I don't hate Gallery. In fact, it sounds really nice but there's nothing here that immediately reels me in. I think disappointed is a better word for how I feel right now.