Opinion & Review

Spencer Radcliffe, ‘Looking In’ Album Review

Spencer Radcliffe dropped his new full-length LP, Looking In, on October 2nd. Spencer Radcliffe is a young musician and songwriter based out of Chicago, who has been silently killing it in the underground music scene for a few years now.

Radcliffe began making ambient electronic music under the name Blithe Field. This is not Radcliffe’s only project; he was also making music with a full band as Best Witches, a fast-paced, loud-mouth rock and emo band. Radcliffe also released a four-song Ep under the name California Furniture, a slower project than Best Witches but sounding along the same lines of emo with more elements of indie rock.

Both projects (Califonia Furniture and Best Witches) sound very influenced by early Modest Mouse releases like Lonesome Crowded Wast, appearing strongest on the tracks “Yellow”, “Skeleton”, and “Labor Day.”

Spencer Radcliffe preforming in Best Witches in Chicago, photo taken from Couch King Emo's blog.

Spencer Radcliffe performing in Best Witches in Chicago; photo taken from Couch King Emo’s blog.

Radcliffe also works in a solo project under his own name (Spencer Radcliffe). He’s dropped three, six song EPs. Sounding much different from his previous projects, his solo act combines elements of indie rock, experimental rock, folk rock, and ambient music.

Following his split EP with like-minded artist R.L. Kelly, Brown Horseout on Brooklyn-based label, Orchid Tapes, Radcliffe put out his first full-length LP, on booming indie label Runforcover Records, based out of Boston, Massachusetts.

Mia,” the first single Radcliffe dropped, I found to be a bit misleading. I absolutely love the song, which is your typical indie rock song with pop and emo influences, but Mia sounds absolutely nothing like the rest of the record. “Mia” is a 2-minute upbeat jam covering topics of relationships and secrecy.

Being dropped as the first single when the LP went up for pre-order and was announced, it led me to believe that Radcliffe was taking a more math rockish/emo and indie pop approach to his new record. I found this to be exactly quite the opposite.

Radcliffe then dropped the second single from the forthcoming LP, “Mermaid.” Sounding absolutely nothing like “Mia” at all, “Mermaid” is almost in a completely different genre; more ambient, dark, and dreamy.

“Mermaid” is a 5-minute track that starts off with spooky, eerie sounding horns and a light distorted guitar that reminds me of the sound an old creaky, rusted wind mill would make over looking a swamp. The song continues with a prominent acoustic guitar and Radcliffe’s melancholy vocals.

Through out the whole tune, there is faint static in the background along with a heavy humming that sounds like a cat is purring right next to your ear. A simple drum melody chimes in about half way through.

The song has lyrics much different from “Mia” like, “We dare not dream at the same time, so we would dream of nothing at all,” making me feel as though Radcliffe feels lost and this song speaks about not knowing who we are and not caring to find out.”

Spencer Radcliffe on roof top in Chicago. Taken from Run For Cover Records web site.

Spencer Radcliffe on a rooftop in Chicago. Taken from Run For Cover Records website

The Last Single Radcliffe Drops is “Yankee“, which sounded along the same term of style as “Mermaid”. The song kicks off with the lyrics “Dose it make the most sense to eat like a bird?” Radcliffe displays his more cryptic song writing on this track.

“Yankee” is a lot more clean cut than “Mermaid” but, still expresses the experimental rock aspect with it’s awkward acoustic and, loud distorted guitars. not to mention the catching paper bag drums.

The other tracks off Looking In, follow the same lines as “Yankee” and “Mermaid”, some with stronger elements of ambient rock and experimental rock the others.

The title track “Looking In” is completely instrumental, built up of many variations of sound and electronic elements. this is extremely similar to Radcliffe’s work in his previous project Blithe Filed.

Even though this track is the only instrumental track on Looking In, it does not feel out of place as “Mia” did. This is because all the elements that this track is entirely built of are present on almost ever track on the record.

I was beyond impressed by this record, its new and original style and feel made it not only stand out to me but leave me thinking hard about the topics covered in the songs. This is by far one of the grates LPs to be dropped in 2015, I give it a 10/10. I find myself listening to this album daily, I love every track.

this record needs to be experienced in its entirety; stream the whole album for free and purchase a digital copy here: Runforcover Records Bandcamp.

Purchase a physical copy, CD/Cassette tape/Vinyl here: Runforcover records web store 


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