“It’s just another stretch of highway. I never asked for ordinary. Time and time change. If I rewrote this it might just sound the same.”
Those are the words that begin Spitalfield’s third album, Better Than Knowing Where You Are. That intro (titled “Dare To…”), backed by dreamy guitar tones and softly sung by vocalist and guitarist Mark Rose, displays the writing perspective from the Chicago quartet. Spitalfield has never written the same record twice, from the pop-punk goodness of their debut, Remember Right Now to the more rock-orientated second album, 2005’s Stop Doing Bad Things. These lyrics can also be directed towards Spitalfield’s fans, the majority of which despised the critically acclaimed Bad Things, longing for the pop-filled hooks that dominated Right Now. Fans need not worry about the groups latest (and best) offering yet. Combining the hooks and melody of the first record along with the maturity of the second, Better Than Knowing displays how much progression this band has made over the course of their eight year existence.
After the opening intro, the guitars rush into “The Only Thing That Matters,” a mid tempo track that has Rose barely above a whisper during the verses but belting out during the chorus. The bass is lively, thanks to new member TJ Milici, and JD Romero’s drums are powerful. The pace picks up on “On The Floor,” where Rose and Dan Lowder’s guitarwork stand out. While Lowder is no longer in the band, his work on this album along with Rose is exceptional. I can see this track being a new fan favorite, with its high octane fever to be a staple in the live show. “Secrets In Mirrors” is the following track and the first single of the album. Musically, this song isn’t my favorite on the album, but lyrically it is strong, as it comments on the lack of originality not only in music, but in life. The handclaps in the bridge are a nice addition to the song, as I’m a sucker for that. The hard hitting title track follows, the guitars run rampant and its infectious chorus will be stuck in your head for days. “Hold On” is a dark track that is very reminiscent of Jimmy Eat World, while “Won’t Back Down” follows the structure of gentle verses with a riveting chorus.
“Curtain Call” and “Tell Me, Clarice” are both songs that flow in the vein of Bad Things, but are executed a lot better on this record. “Lasting First Impression” is a fist-pumping rocker; the guitars are ominous and linger and Rose’s vocals are very prominent. The final two tracks, “Novocaine” and “…Listen,” are what set this record apart from any other release in their discography. “Novocaine” is an atmospheric track that takes you into a dreamy state of mind. While I usually think Spitalfield are at their best they play aggressive, this is one of their finer songs and truly showcases the band’s versatility. The album closer, “…Listen,” begins with driving riffs that lead into the mid paced verses which set the table for the exhilarating chorus. Over the bridge of this song, Rose sings those very same lyrics that began the album, thus bringing a sense of closure to the album and again reiterates the theme of not only this album, but of Spitalfield’s entire career.
The album’s artwork is very interesting, taking on the theme of isolation. Spitalfield would understand such a feeling, as they are one of the very few pop-rock acts on Victory. And with the right kind of promotion, Spitalfield could (and should) be the next big thing, as they are in the same musical vein of Jimmy Eat World, one band that has taken their pop-rock sound to platinum status. Even though I’m not holding my breath for Spitalfield to reach that kind of success, I do hope that they can reach the same success as their less-talented labelmates have reached. On Better Than Knowing Where You Are, Spitalfield has perfected their sound and have released their best album to date. Pick up this album today and dare to listen.
I love Spitalfield to death, however, I just bought the CD yesterday and I am really feeling it. Track 4, the song theyve had on their myspace page is the best song on this CD thus far. I am really hoping it grows on me, but I just don't find much catchiness or too many Jimmy Eat Worldesque qualities. Keep supporting these guys though.
I think this is a stellar album, it isn't as much pop as there is rock, and I think this is a style that spitalfield aims for. Some critics might not dig it because there aren't many "hooks" in the album. However, if all the tracks are like track 7 (Won’t Back Down) we could see a huge rise in interest.