Simon Spire is a New Zealander living in New York, and Four-Letter Words is his second album. There’s been a lot of hype around this album, and Spire himself says in the press release that “I want to be creating a new sound, taking part in where we’re going next”, so I was intrigued to hear where he might be taking us.
Disappointingly, the future mapped out by Four-Letter Words sounds pretty much like what happened yesterday, and the day before.
Apparently, Spire is a dedicated guitarist, but we get no scintillating solos, or even particularly noteworthy fretboard accompaniment, on this collection of ten dull songs. Please, can I re-emphasise that: these songs are about as much fun as listening to The Feelers (notice my refusal to put that execrable group’s name entirely in lower caps).
And then I read the bit on the press release (I know, press releases should always be discarded prior to reading) where he acknowledge Alanis Morissette as a major influence, along with John Mayer, and it all clicked. The sing-song way Spire starts things off on the very first song, ‘Liberate Your Love’, is horribly redolent of Morissette and the generation of inspiration-free power balladeers she unleashed.
By the time track four, ‘A Four-Letter Word, comes along, I’m wondering if The Feelers are guesting. I’m also wondering if the friend that suggested Spire was so dull he must be part of the Parachute festival contingent is right, and that the guy is a Christian fundamentalist in disguise. I mean, he talks about four-letter words, but he doesn’t utter any.
All ten songs are so conventional that you wonder why he bothered. There’s nothing new here. Every line, every melody, is regurgitated turf without a shred of danger, or personality.
He can sing, I suppose, but any residual benefit of that is stalled somewhat by the crushingly banal, humdrum music.
On ‘The Blue Pill’, Spire reckons “I’m too honest”. Well, honesty is a virtue, and it is the loneliest word (and a hundred other clichés), but perhaps he’s confusing ‘honest’ for ‘boring’?
Spire is probably a fine young man, and I’m sure there are legions of fans who will stand by his superb talent. But Four-Letter Words is a damningly dull endeavour, and my advice is to get a sense of humour, and learn to rock out, at least a little.
The sound itself is slick, but not to the level of his hero, John Mayer. GARY STEEL
Music = 2
Sound = 3