A Week Away - Spearmint Album Review
The reissue of Spearmint's debut album 'A Week Away' also happens on the tenth anniversary of the much heralded effort by the band. Despite being critically successful and being held in such high regard by many, it did not manage to recreate the hype into record sales. The reissue includes eleven new tracks, which in all fairness makes it more than just another reissue; it is in effect, two albums packaged as one.
It does take a couple of listens of the album, for the brilliance of the lyrics and the music to truly sink in and for it to start being addictive. This is pure Britpop, it is a shame it came just a couple of years too late. It may sound a bit dated, but lead singer's Shirley Lee's vocals do stand the test of time. There is a real sense of optimism on this record, it has the feel of a Jarvis Cocker album, with a mixture of spoken word tracks and said optimism. Each lyric feels like a narrative, reading like a first person story, which is quite unusual but refreshing all the same.
The album starts with an almost 70's style disco intro, falsettos and all, but then title track 'A Week Away' explodes and goes into full Britpop mode, singing about burning down chip shops in Manchester. You start to realise how nostalgic this album is and how big an influence Britpop is not just on this album, but also with music in general. Getting past the first track you see how much more this is than your stereotypical Britpop, your Oasis and Blurs, this is a fascinating musical journey that covers all the bases. 'A Third of My Life' is a downbeat track about love and sex and it is beautiful in a weird way. 'We're Going Out' feels like a spoken word narrative, set to a funky baseline about just going out on a whim. There is also a track on the album, dedicated to one of the band's main influences The Lemonheads, aptly named 'Here Comes The Lemonheads'; sounding like an Evan Dando double, Shirley Lee really does shine.
It is Shirley Lee's lyrics that truly make Spearmint great, and it is a real shame that they have not achieved more commercial success. But I have discovered them during this review as reminding me of the good days of Britpop and the nostalgia has brought a smile to my face, and not many bands can do this. For this I can now truly call myself a fan.