Spitting Image – Full Sun LP

Spitting Image
Full Sun LP
(Slovenly Recordings)
While such things might seem like the definition of logic to those on the outside looking in, some bands feel compelled to lay up when they make their first introduction to audiences rather than making an orgiastic statement the first time a needle drops on their album. For example, Jane’s Addiction laid up when they made their presence known on their Warner Records debut, Nothing’s Shocking; “Up The Beach” (the first cut on the A-side of the album) presented a lush sonic wash which felt serene and stood in great contrast to the bombastic “classic” alt-rock which followed the cut in the album’s running.

Nothing’s Shocking isn’t the only album that orchestrates a gentle methodology on a given band’s breakthrough release, there is a directory of other albums and artists which have done the same. Most recently, Spitting Image opened their breakthrough album, Full Sun, in a similar manner; the first minute of the introductory cut on Full Sun gives listeners some space to relax as Julian Jacobs gently warms up a simple guitar figure and gives them the impression that they’re getting acclimated to the sound that will be coming. It doesn’t feel difficult at all to pick up what Spitting Image is putting down – until Jacobs’ guitar presence gets a little atonal, Donovan Williams’ drums break into the mix and the energy on Full Sun spontaneously changes as “Spirit – Double Flash” overtakes the proceedings. Tempestuous spirals of feral guitar tone characterize “Spirit – Double Flash” and leave all of the other aspects of the song – Jacobs’ vocals, Williams’ drums and Jack Scribner’s bass – all very much in the background of the guitars for the remainder of the cut, and really leaves listeners’ collective heads spinning when the song crashes to a close; but “Turn Person” doesn’t let the energy lapse at all, after “Spirit – Double Flash” closes out. In fact, Jack Scribner’s bass heightens the sensation of fury in the song, which proves to be a really gratifying hook that keeps listeners’ minds from wandering, as it plays.

That brilliant bass tone keeps listeners engaged as it coils around and never completely releases through “Not This, Not This” and, while it drops back in the mix noticeably during “Broadcast” and “Plea Dealer,” Williams’ propulsive percussion performance takes up the slack and doesn’t let listeners escape before the proverbial needle lifts from the side. When it does lift though, the arid impression left by “Plea Dealer” ensures that listeners will be thirty for more and so ready to flip the record over.

The place where Spitting Image left listeners on the A-side of Full Sun feels as though it has done a complete about-face as clanking and gothic sounds dominate the B-side opener, “Black Box”. There, Spitting Image seems to leave the desert climes of the A-side behind completely (at most, there might be some later-career Ministry flavouring) at the opening of the B-side – but “Still Thing” begins to feel sun-baked again and “Devil’s Bloom” completes the return very satisfyingly. Even so though, as baked as it does get, the energy level on the B-side never languishes (even when “Interlude” tries to hobble the side’s momentum with a minute of shakers and acoustic guitar, which is completely pointless, the change is permissible) and, when the album’s title track enters to close the proceedings, it feels like a poignant gesture which genuinely completes the album’s journey. There, Jacobs’ guitar tone remains very arid and it remains difficult to pick out any one lyric because he’s still singing with a mouth full of sand, but the way that both the side and the album end leaves listeners feeling satisfied enough that they could run the course dictated by Spitting Image again – not because they’re wondering is they missed something, but because they enjoyed the trip. It’ll be interesting to hear where the band steers their course on their next album; there’s little doubt that there will be a change but, because this entry is as compelling as it is, listeners will be left waiting with baited breath to see where the next adventure will take the band. [Bill Adams]


Spitting Image – Full Sun[Album stream]

Full Sun is out now. Buy it here, directly from Slovenly Recordings.

Bill Adams is Editor-in-Chief of Ground Control Mag.