First up is the Polaris-nomanited debut from Toronto/London, UK singer Cold Specks. I Predict a Graceful Expulsion is one of the most hype-generating records of 2012.
The rich, confident, soulful vocals are undoubtedly the star of the show. They make a warm smolder in the heart of the cold desolate "Winter Solstice".
Unfortunately, the vocals are never as impassioned as they could be. "Elephant Head" comes the closest to realizing the full potential of Cold Specks voice, but it too fails to go all the way.
The arrangements, for the most part, do little to support the vocals. All too often they feel like a necessary evil, and that they were given little thought during the recording.
There are some notable exceptions. The arrangements on "Holland" are wide and vast, creating a landscape that allows Cold Specks to demonstrate how her voice can fill a void. The long-building "Steady" shows promise, but gets cut off short of reaching a fulfilling crescendo.
In the end, I Predict a Graceful Expulsion is a solid debut, but it certainly is not the mindblowing experience that many are making it out to be.
Cold Specks plays Massey Hall in Toronto on December 8th opening for Conor Oberst.
Best tracks: "Elephant Head", "Lay Me Down"
Track listing for I Predict a Graceful Expulsion:
- The Mark
- Heavy Hands
- Winter Solstice
- When the City Lights Dim
- Elephant Head
- Send Your Youth
- Blank Maps
- Lay Me Down