Search The Line of Best Fit
Search The Line of Best Fit

Spiritual Cramp take centre stage in a crumbling world on their self-titled debut

"Spiritual Cramp"

Release date: 03 November 2023
Spiritual Cramp Spiritual Cramp cover
03 November 2023, 09:00 Written by Noah Barker

The truly lucky few who get to make a racket for a living can often have a thankless task ahead – be the Twilight Zone.

You must transport with liminal explanation the listener to the end of the project just as they have the inclination to press play; have them grabbing for their necks in response to 10 G’s of whiplash force. Whenever I put on Spiritual Cramp’s debut romp, I am a baseball being driven into deep left field – Roderick Usher when child support is due. The record is a lightspeed conveyor belt with so little in the way of fat that one would think they're trying to qualify for a lower weight class by the next day; Spiritual Cramp have an almost prejudicial attitude toward frills. However, this is just not a series of jabs, but an uppercut combination of punk grace.

Spiritual Cramp seems to have been hand-placed into the Cali Punk scene by whatever archangel is in charge of not letting those posers get too cocky. What Spiritual Cramp lacks in raw intensity and incisive commentary, they rebuild with Turnstile’s attention to pop aesthetics. One may be justified in turning their nose up at this prospect, but make no mistake, this record is an exception that proves the rule. When you can’t be Dead Kennedys, the slippery slope to modern Green Day isn’t inevitable, and this record is proof that the separating factor may indeed just be taste. The sound palette of the record is compact with searing chords and delicately raucous group vocals; this isn’t punk from a Sears catalogue, but a homemade replica that earns its pristine sheen with grit and intent.

Singles “Talkin’ on the Internet” and “Herbert’s on Holiday” entered this album cycle into the fray like a hero’s entrance in a fantasy novel. Every facet of their style and sound was above board yet tongue-in-cheek, all the makings of the man who would be king. Their rhythm sections sputter well-oiled and their guitar lines take a core strand of early Arctic Monkeys and hammer it into a weapon of mass destruction. The intro to “City’s on Fire” may very well be what Alex Turner and Jamie Cook would have drummed up if they went to the desert before Humbug. But in Spiritual Cramp’s lyrical world, that desert is indistinguishable from the cities they encircle. Where their contemporaries flail their arms wildly at political commentary, they are content with an evocation of our age, misery, splendour, and all.

While the record doesn’t necessarily uncover any new ground not previously telegraphed by its first half, letting the beat ride until the end of “Addict” will reveal a welcome surprise: you’ve been conned out of a half-hour. No, you could’ve sworn your finger was still on the ‘play’ button, but it’s not anymore. This isn’t a trick of the mind, it’s an adept technique a lucky few possess: to make time to get off the couch and fly.

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