San Diego band Spooky Cigarette has unleashed its debut extended play “ As Loud As I Can” digitally and on cassette via local label Bleeding Gold Records.
“As Loud As I Can” is a perfect blend of synthesizers, hooky base lines and digestible guitar licks. Traces of sounds of old can be heard on the record but not imitated. A breed of its own, the record is catchy as it is fresh.
The local band’s self-proclaimed homage to new wave, no wave and post-punk is all of the above but not quite.
The opening track “Oh Well” is infectious, with its bouncy groove and jittery guitars. Front man Frank Mindingall delivers a message of want and need only to find indifference in the end. The track carries an essence of nervousness throughout that drives it forward with poise.
On “Spiritual Hypochondriac,” the band visits the past while facing the inevitable future, imperfection awaits and it is met here with a shaky optimism or what seems to be a hint of reluctance. The only thing lacking in this track is length, flying by at a mere two minutes and thirty-some seconds. Hit repeat.
“Normal” is the highlight of this extended play.
“All I want to be is normal. When I grow up I want to be normal. Have a wife and kid who also are normal. But then still I would not be normal,” sings Mindingall.
The track finds him exploring, questioning and coming to terms with his own sexual identity, which is what this whole extended play is about, the realization and acceptance of his identity. Here, the record is its most affecting, relying on its childlike honesty to deliver its message loud and clear that “normal” is not meant to be.
After this near perfect 1-2-3 offering, “Days in Repetend” closes the record. A fine track by all means, its only fault is that it lacks the urgency and excitement of the earlier ones, something we can easily forgive.
The record hits the mark with its overall concept. The band and Mindingall have been very open about the underlying message of the record but one only needs to take a closer look at the definition of the band name to fully understand.
The name spins around the negative connotation of “spook,” a term for African-Americans, and “fag,” a derogatory slang word for cigarettes. The band is rebranding both terms, giving them a brand new positive voice, one that’s liberating and optimistic.
“As Loud As I Can” strikes all the right chords in the ban’d’s first outing. Short, sweet and promising with plenty of room for growth, making Spooky Cigarette’s debut quite impressive.