‘Belafonte’ is the album debut from Schofield Spires that hitchhikes us down a highway of psychedelic off-ramps and exits on a hot summer road trip.
The Christchurch indie pop five-piece of Ben Baird, James Beck, Aaron Frew, Johnny Lineham and Ivor Richards describe themselves as just a few friends who get together, jam, drink and brew their own beer.
Their trip kicks off with Sitting In The Park, an upbeat piece of lo-fi pop that showers you with fuzzy lead lines painted over vibrant guitar chords, bouncing and bopping its way into Maths Teacher.
Surely tailor-made for student radio play, the lyrics and singing carry a naïve and carefree attitude that holds listener attention with its anthemic yet innocent melodies.
With the opening songs having shot the album off to a freewheeling start, much like any Kiwi road trip the journey’s pace then gets slowed. Filling eight minutes the bleak landscape of fourth track When You Call Me gives you reflect on all those moments of relationships (the journey) that are sometimes easily missed.
Closing the 10-song show Little Things is a more constrained ballad, peppered with harmonies of “ooohs” and “huuums” that might lull you into sleep, leaving tomorrow’s future to the imagination.
Recorded/produced by Christchurch songwriter and visual artist Blair Parkes (also credited with some instrumental and vocal input), the album blends and layers guitars effortlessly, having one clean yet lively rhythmic guitar slashing away at the chords while the fuzzy lead guitar catches attention as it dances around the neatly accompanied kick-backed singing.
Most songs utilise the simple structure where the vocals lead the songs through a bed of sonic highways that ultimately climax in a fast-strummed guitar solo.
‘Belafonte’ never hides its intentions and is very clear that it’s a psychedelic pop/rock album of deliberate indie appeal.
Although never venturing away from simple and predictable structures the songs are catchy and the guitar solos always welcome.
Schofield Spires show that in a time of complicated and over-produced music honesty and familiarity can be all-the-more treasured.