hitBACK 1 November 2019
Quality, clever pop is always welcome and that is what Spearmint have here. A mature and wise pop, like a longer-in-the-tooth Pulp and part of the British tradition that holds Squeeze and The Lightning Seeds. Lyrics are sardonic or smart or kind and forgiving. Mostly the latter. With the clear-eyedness of a younger band but the way with words and tunes of an older one. Spearmint have been around twenty years but have a slow but steady output and this is beautifuuly poised and polished pop with lyrics to savour.
Standout track is ‘Senseless’. “You wouldn’t give a complete stranger the keys to your heart, would you?” Then the chorus slams in “It’s senseless, falling in love is just senseless”. The song has a classic disco 4/4 beat and deserves to be this year’s Common People, combining dark sentiments and a knowing wink. Just lovely.
Spearmint’s singer and song-writer Shirley Lee explains, “The title ‘Are You From The Future?’ refers to the younger folk, who will see a future that I won’t. I can only apologise for what my generation and the baby boomers are passing on – the sooner the current teens and twenty-somethings are running the world the better, as far as I’m concerned.”
Not that the other songs are duffers. “24 Hours In A and E” is smart and sassy and the arrangement is huge and gorgeous, while Fireflies is sweet and sort of nostalgic. Somehow I’ve never heard of this band yet, like I Am Klute, they just keep on, making quality records to please themselves. This one, they should be proud of – the world needs simple pop, it needs heart and brains, it needs songs that makes people think “ah, I’m not alone” and songs that catch in the ear. Never really part of a scene, despite being in Brighton, the band are their own thing – completely accessible, yet a badge of merit to the cognoscenti.
Recognisable Britain. Neighbours banging walls, a recycling truck, keep them awake – ‘I Don’t Sleep Well Without You’- “if the cost of love is independence, I’ll pay the price”. “As I write this, the president is a fool, so much news coming at us these days, if I just turn away, is that so wrong?”. Yes, Spearmint, you know it is; but they’re only ripping gently into people who say that sort of thing. ‘It Won’t Happen To Me’ – kids, settling down, taking boring jobs, dying – it’s just not their style. And then there’s the song about David Cameron – first the pig, then the country; thanks…..
Easy to identify with, straightforward yet smart – why is this band not bigger? I’m already on eBay, tracking down the back catalogue.