Spotlight Kid is a shoegaze five-piece from Nottingham, England. Last May, I featured their song “Plan Comes Apart”. Their 2012 sophomore album Disaster Tourist is very good, and it would have made my 2012 year-end list, but I was late arriving to the Spotlight Kid party.
Today marks the release of the band’s third album Ten Thousand Hours via Saint Marie Records. It’s every bit as good as their previous albums, and in an entirely different way. While the previous record is totally drenched in delay and a lot of fuzz, there’s less of that this time. There’s still enough fuzz and enough pedal-stomping to keep the pedal porn enthusiasts happy, but everything seems more polished. The biggest difference, though, is the vocals. On the last record, Katty Heath’s vocals were often buried in that mid-1990s 4AD guitar wash that I really do love. On this go-round, they’re letting her voice shine a bit more. The vocals are closer to the front of the mix and a little less whispery. The end result is something that’s much shinier. And I think it might give them broader appeal.
While I will also very highly suggest the magnificent “A Minor Character” as a standout track from the new album,today’s song is the slightly dreamy “Sugar Pills”. This is that song.
“Sugar Pills” by Spotlight Kid
That flute-like melody in the intro gets looped and it runs through the entire song. For most of the song, it’s buried well beneath everything else, but it’s there. It’s sort of mesmerizing. That tiny thing is one of my favorite things about the song. I also love how the guitars are really swirly, but they’re not hogging the stage. Like I said, Heath’s vocals are a bit bigger on this new record. The drums are, too. Instead of just blending in to the sonic landscape, they really stand out. And the way the drums come in at the beginning of the song reminds me of the way the drums come in at the beginning of “Vapour Trail” by Ride. I’d be really really surprised if that wasn’t by design.
It probably won’t surprise anybody that another one of my favorite bits is the little breakdown that happens around 1:30, with just that flute-like loop and some synth buzz. Then at about 1:50, there’s that same Ride-esque burst of drums. Breaks like that take the loud/quiet/loud thing to the extreme, and I like it.