The Spiritual Leaders – Albania Away EP – Review

The Spiritual LeadersIrish indie rockers The Spiritual Leaders have a new EP out in the world! Entitled Albania Away, the EP is a full-spectrum ride through the band’s varied aesthetic. Equal parts 60s Britpop & 80s British New Wave, their approach to blending styles creates a sound unique to them.

The Spiritual Leaders – Albania Away

The first track, “Picture On The Wall”, begins with ethereal synth pads which give way to a groovy bass line. Drums enter just after the bass, enhancing the rhythm of the bass line and helping drive the music. Percussive guitar chords join the fray, followed by vocals, with elements of the 80s New Wave influence apparent in the vocal delivery. The whole song is ultimately based on the intro groove, but this is not a bad thing; the musicians simply explore the full space and width of the groove in order to realize the complete idea and create a timeless piece of music.

The second song, “Fatten The Calf”, starts out much different; the elements sound similar, but the groove & vibe switches up. The music is not as upbeat; it is more like a syncopated, halting dance. Playing with rhythmic accents in the drums allows the music to sound like it is oscillating between different time signatures. Beautiful sonic textures fill in the space around the stuttering rhythms, with each individual element combining to create something greater than the sum of its parts.

The EP continues with “You Know Me”, a high-energy rock song, beginning with a percussive synth before quickly opening up into a full band arrangement. The driving rhythm section gets elevated by the searing lead guitar, and then further augmented by the anguished vocal cries of “You know me and I know you” during the dynamic chorus section.

The more relaxed and mostly instrumental “Bell Jar” is next. Cheery, phased guitars intertwine, reminiscent of early 2010s indie rock. For the first 90 seconds of the song, the guitars serve as the lead. A short vocal verse is included, but the emphasis here is on the guitars. The parts interweave so well; they continue to build and feed off of each other, growing in emotion with the rest of the band until a full crescendo opens up into a driving, rocking outro.

The most mellow song on the album by far, “Temporary” is a slow acoustic ballad. Strumming guitar supports an impassioned vocal delivery. Strings come in during the chorus to help fill out the arrangement and add to the mood being created by the lyrics: “It’s temporary / Feeling this way / It’s temporary / When does it go away?” The song cycles through another verse and chorus before fading to an unsettling resolution, the perfect end to the song.

The final song on the EP, “Underwater With You”, is a pensive, tense, & syncopated. The full instrumentation returns, with drums holding down an accented rhythm while guitar picks single arpeggiated notes. The chorus is a repetition of the song title, with a very interesting and unique melodic resolution. This is possibly the catchiest song on the record, as the chorus hooks the listener instantly after the verse builds to that arrival point. After the second chorus the drums kick in on a full rhythm, introducing snare on 2 and 4 for the first time and really opening up the arrangement as a heavy guitar riff plays over the top of the band. The song ends with unresolved tension, bringing the EP to an uncertain close.

Albania Away is a fantastic listen. It’s remarkable to hear such an experienced sound from such a young band, and we look forward to more!

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