It’s fitting that Spiral Beach’s album Ball has been described as an “endless carnival.” On the album’s first track, “Teddy Black,” the group sounds like a deranged, psychedelic disco circus, combining danceable sounds with swirling, synthetic effects and eerie female vocals that sound as if they were broadcast from one of the foam planets in an Ed Wood film. In this one song, the group conjures images of both shapely, writhing vixens and maniacal alien beings. Were there to be a schlocky B-movie revival anytime soon, Spiral Beach seems primed to provide the soundtrack.
Yet on Ball, this circus contains numerous death-defying acts and sideshows. The Canadian quartet manage to pack a broad spectrum of sounds beneath their big top, making for a consistently exciting series of sounds and attractions. “Made of Stone,” by comparison to the leadoff track, is slightly more conventional indie rock fare, though still dizzying and strange in its psychedelic pop shuffle. Meanwhile, “Kind of Beast” is a sassy, messy dance-rock stomper with lots of woozy, echoing vocals and seasick rhythms. “Rocket Fuel” has the kind of twisted rockabilly attitude that would make Lux Interior proud, rest his campy, badass soul. The atmospheric “We Saw Ghosts” is ethereal enough to match its spectral title, but only temporarily, as guitars soon erupt into a furious rush of sonic destruction. And “Astro Girls” is a simple and perfect summation of the group’s best qualities, marrying sci-fi synths with ’50s-style pop and punk rock fury.
To drive the point home that Spiral Beach puts on a carnival-like spectacle, the group’s shows have been known to feature fire breathers and tire swings, among other visual stimuli. In fact, it’s kind of encouraging to hear about a band like this, that’s willing to commit to putting on a big production. The music itself, however, is as entrancing as it is disorienting. Spiral Beach is like Art Bell’s “Coast to Coast,” a midnight movie marathon, a man shot from a cannon and a chain-smoking psychic set to music, and I don’t have to tell you how cool that is.
Jeff Terich is the founder and editor of Treble. He's been writing about music for 20 years and has been published at American Songwriter, Bandcamp Daily, Reverb, Spin, Stereogum, uDiscoverMusic, VinylMePlease and some others that he's forgetting right now. He's still not tired of it.