Spiritual Cramp: Spiritual Cramp [Album Review]

Spiritual Cramp
Spiritual Cramp
Blue Grape Music [2023]

I’ve been keeping an ear out for this debut ever since the San Francisco punk outfit, Spiritual Cramp, self-released their excellent Here Comes More Bad News EP back in 2021. Spiritual Cramp’s self-titled debut album expands on its predecessor, going bigger and bolder in its sound. It has ignited a fervor in the punk rock scene, delivering a sonic experience that encapsulates the essence of rebellion and youthful exuberance.

The album, comprised of 10 tracks with a short runtime of 26 minutes, showcases the band’s ability to seamlessly blend diverse influences, resulting in a unique and captivating powerful sound. The band members exude a sense of coolness, clad in Fred Perry and projecting an image that could intimidate anyone in their path. However, this rough exterior doesn’t fully translate into their music, which is clear-cut, hook-driven, and tightly wound.

Rooted in the punk ethos, Spiritual Cramp draws inspiration from a range of influences, with a notable nod to the Clash’s realization of the punk-reggae alliance. The frontman, Michael Bingham, emerges as a compelling figure, his voice oscillating between confident power and uncertain urgency. The album’s sequencing cleverly captures both the highs and humbling lows of life. Bingham connects the political and personal, delivering straightforward and sometimes poignant lyrics that touch on war, societal unrest, and the struggles of everyday life.

While the album may lack the chaotic energy of their live shows, it compensates with concise efficiency. Spiritual Cramp goes for big riffs and large anthems in a short amount of time, venturing into different styles to showcase their versatility. From the mechanized reggae in the “Blowback” intro to the new wave Killers-like vibe on “Herbert’s On Holiday,” the band displays a diverse range. At any given moment, they also seem to draw influences from the post-punk and new wave genres that Interpol has made famous.

In essence, Spiritual Cramp’s debut album is a catchy, fun record that transcends genre boundaries. It pays homage to punk roots while reinventing the subgenre playbook. The band’s ability to blend influences from various musical realms results in an album that feels simultaneously nostalgic and fresh. Whether you’re into punk, post-punk, garage rock, or reggae, Spiritual Cramp’s self-titled debut is a half-hour joyride of fist-pumping, rebellious rock ‘n’ roll that demands attention.

“Talkin’ On The Internet” / “Better Off This Way” / “Herbert’s On Holiday”

The Hives / Interpol / The Clash

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Thomas Wilde

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