The Spill Canvas - 'Conduit' Album Review
The Spill Canvas have had a rather interesting career. Initially doing their part to help trend set the heart wrenching emo scene of the early 2000s, they went on to carve a corner of Alternative Rock that was distinctly their own.
'Conduit' is their first full length album release in 9 years and that large gap must have felt pressuring to the group. When older bands release something new it usually falls into two categories - rewriting their past with usually poor results, or embracing modern music so hard that they lose their identity in the process.
'Conduit' has managed to dance this line perfectly, by retaining the songwriting chops you expect from The Spill Canvas and retaining some of their hallmark touches, whilst also embracing some different genres and modern musical sensibilities to make 'Conduit' feel fresh. It’s like they fixed up an old house and finished it with a lovely new lick of paint.
The latter half of The Spill Canvas’s career had a specific ‘sultry-riff-rock’ feel to it, like if Maroon 5 were actually a Rock band, and that is ever present on this release with songs like 'Architecture,' 'Darkside' and even the title track keeping the comfy chair warm for their die hard fan base.
But there are some songs that embrace genre shifts and production tricks to help them stand out compared to their long history.
'Calendar' kicks off with a pulsing effect that ends up with a summery, dancey vibe. The core songwriting is still what you expect but the instrumentation and production choices manage to lift it apart.
'Cost' gives us more subtle examples of this with digital distortion choices on percussive elements littered through the song.
'Gallon' is almost a Country song with how it’s presented, sliding electric guitars and in parts I swear I actually heard a banjo.
These tracks, and the other elements of ‘growth’ you hear throughout the album, really show what The Spill Canvas can be in the 2020s. The question now is whether said growth is another to attract new fans without alienating the old ones.
As someone who has followed their career since the mid 2000s, I will say that this album is comfortably familiar - it is what I expected. Ultimately the little differences I mentioned aren’t leaps ahead for them, even their 2010 EPs had similar moments of genre shift like '10,000 Midnights' offering a clean 50s experience. It’s nice to see them try to change things a little, but I personally think they could’ve pushed the boat out a little bit more without losing what makes them sound like “them”.
Overall, the record is catchy, riff heavy, and fun and has moments of experimentation. For other bands I’d really compliment the efforts, but for The Spill Canvas it feels a little restrained.
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Review - Kayleigh Morgan