Spielbergs – Vestli
Alternative Rock | Punk
A disheartening trend I’ve noticed over the years is of bands I loved that had shown so much promise on their debuts slowly becoming a shadow of their former selves over subsequent records. Second albums have always had a reputation of being a difficult landing to stick, but perhaps due to the modern mentality of “constant content”, acts these days seem to have a harder time dusting themselves off after a misstep. These days a lacklustre second album can seem more of an ill omen of the path ahead, rather than being just one solitary bump in the road. Bands delivering electrifying debuts, only for every album that follows feeling like a photocopy of a photocopy struggling in vain to replicate the magic. More cracks appear; the choruses less catchy, the riffs less energising, the project as a whole somehow feeling less earnest.
No one however can doubt the steadfast conviction of Spielbergs. Oslo’s finest alt rockers built their name on a level of ardour, energy and sheer reckless abandon that many bands struggle to match convincingly on a single song, never mind an entire album. With their sophomore album Vestli opening with the electrifying one-two punch of ‘The New Year’s Resolution’ and ‘When They Come For Me’, delivering tempestuous riffs and engaging melodies, you’re left in little doubt that their passion burns just as intense as ever.
Though not quite as immediate as This Is Not The End, this new record is packed full of invigorating moments. The way the chaotic coda of ‘There Is No Way Out’ spirals out toward a cacophonous breaking point, crashing to a halt as it collides with the blissful tranquillity of instrumental track ‘Goodbye’. It feels like being aboard a rocket straining to break through the atmosphere, G forces threatening to send it careening out of control, before finally reaching the serene expanse of space. ‘Brother Of Mine’ is propelled by a bass tone so intoxicating it feels like it should have an age restriction, while the raucous punk of ‘George McFly’ boasts some of the band’s best guitar flourishes to date. Epic closer ‘You Can Be Yourself With Me’ ensures the album ends on a high. A standout slow-burner, it builds from acoustic balladry to mid-tempo rocker, its finale growing layer by layer until it begins to sound like a lost deep cut demo from Daydream Nation.
There’s no smoothing of rough edges here, no weariness tempering their passion, and certainly little to no sense of diminishing returns. If anything where Vestli falls short are the few moments where the band struggle to rein in their wild hearts. Tracks like ‘Every Living Creature’ and ‘Go!’ roar and clatter as unrelentingly as a jackhammer, already maxed out right from the start leaving them with nowhere else left to go. A record’s only fault being “over-enthusiasm” is a rare and enviable problem to have in a world that sees so many creative sparks fade to embers far too soon after flaring to life. Spielbergs burn bright on Vestli, and it’s a blaze you’ll feel coursing through your veins from start to finish.