At first glance Louise Jones, aka Spectrals is a brassy-looking ginger who looks like he was plucked straight out of a J.K.Rowling story. His full baby face is soft and pubescent, and charming in a disarmingly fresh way. Equally enchanting and surprisingly romantic his debut full-length, Bad Penny — released on Slumberland Records is bewitching to say the least. At most I’d say its sensational — current yet sweetly antique, dewey and delicious. This British baby-rocker (he is only 21 after all) will paint pictures of damp English gardens and make you dream of smooching your lover behind some English shed. It’s puppy-love pop with a dash of soul. Utilizing the raging hormonal longings that come with the age, Jones has created an album that is dripping with true spoken sentiments of love, sex and the ambivalence of angst.
Press play and track one rolls out of the speakers like a leggy blonde on rollerblades. “Get a Grip” begins with a perfect crescendo of crashing high hats and twangy beach boy-esque guitar that commands you to tap the beat with any body part or inanimate object most readily at hand. Next comes in the vocals, low and dragging they ground the pop-iness and add a really sexy trill that is killer. “I need to get a grip/I always seem to let my smile slip” he groans and the catchiness is immediate. Relatable and lovable, his lyrics on “Get a Grip” are a silly ode to hot messes everywhere and the friend that help to pick them up. It sets a flirty yet innocent tone for the next 10 songs. My personal highlights include punch-drunk “Many Happy Returns” which blends classically Spanish sounding melodies with a rough beat and smooth vocals. “You Can’t Live on Love Alone” which has a very old school doo-wop feel (which makes sense as he lists his own influences as The Ronettes to name one). This track is undeniably happy, like cotton candy and first kisses happy. Summery and super poppy, the up beats are ecstatic and mood enhancing.
Carefree music is hard to find, not since the days of The Beach Boys, The Kinks and bobby socks as a fashion item did you hear such an innocence in music. Yet here it is a whole album that evokes all the wide-eyed, un-jaded view of life and love that is so needed now-a-days. So thank you Louise Jones, for a bright light of musical sunshine for these gloomy winter months ahead. I’m going to go ahead and give Bad Penny a 7.5/10 and suggest you all give him a listen (and a look). With predecessors of the new school doo-wop sounds (such as Tennis, Mister Heavenly, Devon Williams … ) I can say with certainty there is definitely room for this young British ginger in our American catalog. My only concern is that the album comes off a bit monotonous with each track sounding similar to the other. The familiar harmonies seem to blend into one sugary bowl of nostalgic pop where you can’t decipher one song from the next. With a little more polish and creative zest, Jones will have it down the next time around.
Words by: Jasmine Hickle