SPECTRES gives chaos a pop sheen

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      Nostalgia (Artoffact)

      We’re willing to bet that there aren’t many bands that name both new-wave pioneers New Order and the Finnish gothic rock band Beastmilk as two of their major influences. But both are cited on Vancouver-based post-punk quintet SPECTRES’ Bandcamp page for their latest project, Nostalgia.

      Appropriately for a group that attaches the seemingly contradictory genre labels “death rock” and “peace punk” to itself, SPECTRES blends together chaotic and distorted soundscapes with the catchiest of ’80s-inspired pop sensibilities.

      It’s as if the band intended every musical motif of its songs to function as an inescapable earworm of a hook—but to capture an anarchic punk spirit, they instead let all of those noises bleed together and fall into a swirling and indecipherable vortex of sound. The guitars squeal and the drums rattle incessantly, but the upbeat and bouncy bass lines often sound like they’re fresh from the latest TikTok trend. And yet, it all works out just fine.

      One of the best twists of the record is when the band’s members reveal they are actually huge history nerds, the musical underscoring following suit and growing more viscerally jolting as frontman Brian Gustavson runs through a couple of humanity’s darkest moments. Switching to a minor key and finally letting out some chilling screams on the World War II–evoking “Pictures From Occupied Europe”, or describing the terrorist activity of the Cold War on “Years of Lead”, SPECTRES sound far from nostalgic. It’s those kinds of contradictions that make them so engaging.