Like an iron fist in a velvet glove, the eponymous new album by Spleen seduces you into a journey of sorrow, anger, and cleansing rebirth.
Blessed with one of the tightest bands on the Brighton scene Spleen traverses deftly between Goth, psych, queercore metal and back again without missing a single beat, but it’s the heart-on-his-sleeve lyrics and stunning vocals of lead Oli Spleen that tie it all together into a dazzling display.
The iconic Janis Joplin once described her singing in an interview as:
Getting on the bottom of the music instead of floating around on the top of the melody. Getting the feel of the music.
It’s this sensibility that encircles Oli Spleen like a magic light – his voice winds, dances, leaps between the primal growl of Andrew Eldritch and the falsetto shriek of Poly Styrene, but the words are his and his alone. Tracks like Turning Tide, and Screwed Love dip into the most Indian of 60s psych with swirling raga-like keyboards and anthemic drums. Others like Bury Me Now/Bleed swirl like an 80s Goth dervish.
And its this Shamanic fury that runs through the whole album. We live in troubling times – divided by political and social schism. Oli’s lyrics speak of emotional schisms and worlds both outer and inner rendered bloody and shamed. But still, there is a strength in all the anguish, a defiant tone.
What’s the meaning of my birth
Why these strange sad songs I’m singing
Have I sung a thing of worth
Is the bell I ring worth ringing?
The answer is a categoric yes. Spleen is one of many strings to Oli’s bow, and both collectively and in solo represents a cornerstone of the very best of Brighton. Proud. Defiant. Proudly, defiantly unique.
Stand-out tracks: Turning Tide, Never Known, Screwed Love.
Spleen is available to buy on Bandcamp: Spleen by Spleen