Spectral Park is a woozy, mind-bending ride

Psychedelic has become an overused and misinterpreted term in modern music and it seems anyone that makes music which is vaguely ‘druggy’ is labelled as psychedelic, as journalists struggle to find any other way of describing them. Most of this music rarely approaches anything remotely like psychedelia and is often usually bog standard indie pop that someone has found a weird keyboard sound to put in the background in a desperate attempt to sound edgy. Very few artists seem to capture the sense of fun and wilful experimentation that marks all the great psychedelic albums and artists.

Then there’s Southampton’s Spectral Park who are an entirely different prospect. Spectral Park is the madcap pop brainchild of Luke Donovan who plays everything on this delightfully bonkers record. It started with a bunch of discarded records found in a box on the curb of a council block. Donovan took them home, fed them through his sampler, pitch bent, chopped and warped them to fuck and then started playing instruments and singing over the top. The result is a woozy, mind-bending ride through a psychedelic fairground positively dripping with hooks. It jumps from one wonderful hook to another with such speed and confidence that you barely have time to register before being swept breathlessly along by the next one. Beneath the reverb heavy swirling maelstrom though lies a wistful, melancholy soul that belies its sugary pop confection coating. Album highlights Nausea and Cut tell of having “betrothed ourselves to eager, bad advice,” and pleading to, “cut it all out, there is nothing left to love” despite being ravishing epics of upbeat mentalness.

There is so much going on in this record that it can be a bit exhausting at times but if my only criticism of it is having too many ideas and trying to cram them all in to one LP (and even at some points one song) then I wish I listened to more records like this.

neil martin


Review by Neil Martin. Grab a copy of Spectral Park’s eponymous debut album here.