[Album Review] Cold Specks- Neuroplasticity
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by Tiana Feng
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Release Date: August 26th, 2014
Label: Arts & Crafts

A month ago, Cold Specks played a very sold-out show at The Drake Hotel. Front woman Al Spx took to the stage, acting mostly as lead singer as opposed to double duties as a guitarist. This allowed the singer to put her full energy on her awe-inspiring vocals that could fill a theatre.

Despite Spx’s ability to captivate the listener on her own, her band doesn’t play a backseat in Neuroplasticity. They complement them. In the opener “A Broken Memory”, a trumpet can be heard taking part in the conversation. This time around, the atmosphere and the lyrics take on a darker, moodier tone. With such a line as, “Every old knife rusting in my back,I will drive into yours,”  in “Old Knives”, we can only wonder who pissed Spx enough to write that lyric. At her Drake show, she said the song was about a dream where she decapitated her lover as he slept.  There’s definitely a bit of macabre written in this album. I mean, the lead single involves a dead lover in water, or something like that. She has no remorse for these things as she sings, “I remain unshakeable” in the thundering chorus of “A Quiet Chill”.

It’s hard not to mention a little bit of Swans influence here and there, as Michael Gira from the band actually lent his deep vocals in “Exit Plan” and “A Season of Doubt”. His part is not so much necessary as it an extra layer of effect for drama. The synth-laden sounds of “Let Loose the Dogs” make this the next radio-ready single, while the following “Absisto” grabs your attention with a specific two-note guitar interval. Cold Specks chooses to leave you with the trembling last note on a grand piano in the chilling closer “A Season of Doubt”.

Spx had mentioned growing tired of the songs that made her name in 2012’s I Predict A Graceful Expulsion. In Neuroplasticity, she demonstrates that she could evolve and experiment with her sound, while still charming the listener.