Fashion designers and models take many approaches. There’s the look that stuns you with its absurdness: dresses made from chandeliers, women wearing trash can lids as hats, that sort of thing. And there’s the approach of taking the designer’s name and sticking it everywhere you can find, the Tommy Hilfiger/Sean “Puffy” Combs method. But then there’s those well-dressed people who lurk in the background and draw no attention to themselves, quietly exuding style without any help. That group of people is where Spring would fit, if they dealt in the world of fine fabrics instead of the world of fabulous pop. Their gentle, classy music breezes along without ever shouting for your attention.
The cover art of Spring’s The Last Goodbye, their debut album, looks very 1960s but the music seems really now. On 13 songs, Spring plays a blend of mellow pop, light bossa nova and eccentricity that has a timeless, sophisticated quality. The band’s music is heavy on acoustic guitar, light percussion instruments (like that circular thing with the beads on it) and the gorgeous voice of lead singer Alex. There’s another guy who duets with her on a song or two, and he has sort of a Leonard Cohen-turned-movie star voice which nicely complements hers. Spring’s lyrics are romantic and worded in a somewhat surreal way at times, a fact that gives them a truly poetic quality (one example: “Is it inconvenient to smile if I don’t wanna talk? / You tell me faint is no good then I won’t get a whiskey coke / Is your shadow a pretty place to feel safe?”).
Spring’s pop is smooth, somewhat jazzy, and has a relaxing, lazy summer feel. The music is really pretty throughout, and the album is filled with nice musical surprises, like the lush, flute-soaked backdrop of “Red Bar Evenings,” or the funky groove of “Shooting Stars,” featuring dialogue clips from Barbarella and Hal Hartley’s Surviving Desire (how cool is that?).
This whole affair has a cosmopolitan, world-traveler feel. Spring is from France and The Last Goodbye was originally released in 1999 on Spain’s Elefant Records. Some songs are sung in English, some in French and some in Spanish. Lately March Records has been doing a great job introducing me to fine pop music from all over the world. I love the fact that the same label can give me great pop from France, England, Norway, Sweden, the U.S. and many other places. It makes me happy that the splenderous pop of Spring found its way to my little corner of the world. It’s always nice to see the globe getting smaller.
// Notes from the Road
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