Styrofoam Archives (Trik-Magic Records)
By: Alex Steininger
Led by the rock 'n' roll tactics (She bounces, jumps, and moves on stage. Boy, do I mean she moves!) of Stephanie Smith, Portland, Oregon's Spectator Pump is definitely a rock band that doesn't stand still. Fueled by Stephanie's rhythm guitar, Michael Carothers' lead guitar, and Robby Duncan's drums, this three piece knows how to control their intensity and unleash it on you in serve-able quantities.
The shouts-to-whisper style of "Sunday Mail" will wrap you up, chew on you for a bit, and then spit you out. One minute you'll be jumping around in glee reacting to the thunder of the guitars, and then the next minute you'll stand their stunned as Stephanie softly begins to leak the words out. It's their way of keeping you at their fingertips, so be warned. If you're not careful, you may find yourself face down on the floor.
"Hollycat" gives Stephanie a chance to sing, rather than spitting out the words. A bit softer and friendlier than some of their other material, it still contains their stampede style of untamable melodies and whipping drum beats.
The longest track on the disc, clocking in at four minutes and thirty seconds, is "Buoyancy." Beginning with a minute long intro of various sounds, the song begins at a low point. Sitting there wondering when the song will start, you'll grow tiresome and give up on the song before it even begins. But, if you are patient enough to wait for the real part of the song to begin, you'll be rewarded with a nice mix of hooky guitars and pounding drums. The song carries on with a bulky guitar sound, helping to draw you in. All the while, the drums help push the song past the timid stage and into a more rowdy, playful atmosphere. The outcome is a nice song that shows both dimensions of the band -- their softer and harder sides collide.
"Gold Plated Platinum" earns the title of album standout. Back into their abrasive format, you'll be pushed and tossed around by the strength of the guitars, while the crushing drum sounds will re-enforce the guitars and help them land a cleaner, harder 1-2 combo on you. Slipping in some hooks to do the job of a magnet, they're able to bring you even deeper into their world. Once there, they'll thrash and pound on you constantly. "Enough is enough!" not even a thought to them, they'll keep sending the powered-up beats straight to your head.
Ending with the song that got me interested in the band (off their "Priced To Move"/"Asylum" demo tape a year and a half ago), "Priced To Move" doesn't seem as aggressive, slippery, or wicked as it comes through on the demo tape. Maybe it's because by the time you get to track twelve you're a little numb on the sound. But, nonetheless, the song is still able to send Goosebumps up and down your body. The thick guitars and heavy drums set the tone for a hearty rocker, but Stephanie's vocals jump all over the map -- moving from whispers to shouts, and then from soft singing back to more sharp tongue.
Finally releasing their long-awaited debut CD, Spectator Pump comes up with some sharp moments. However, they don't seem to be able to match the intensity of their live shows. When you see these guys live, they'll blow you away. I've seem them a few times now, and each time I am reminded why their live shows are one of the best out there. But, this isn't translated through the disc at all. The hunger, drive, and amped up spirit shine during some portions of this disc, but, unlike the live show, are not always present. Still a decent album that I'll listen to now and then, I'll give it a B.