For all of Glasgow’s gritty history, it does have a way of turning out a rather shimmering brand of power pop—even if it does possess an occasionally sinister undercurrent. This is so much so that thirty-eight years after its founding (and short eighteen-month existence), Postcard Records is still the label that most genuinely represents the city’s defining musical aesthetic.
And so it is that Spinning Coin, the latest from Scotland’s second city, are very much of a piece with bands like Orange Juice and Josef K. But their true strength lies in not just being some manner of revival of those pop-post-punk tenets, as much as clever guardians of the aesthetic flame.
“Money is a Drug,” for instance, does what the Postcard bands did best: take the perfect pop song and throw it into jagged, spiky disarray, like a figure artfully disassembled in a Braque painting. The romantic “Raining on Hope Street” adds on to that all the ethereal longing of mid-period Cocteau Twins (who were also Scottish, mind). But underneath the incandescent guitars, on the explosive “Tin” there’s a convincingly ferocious wall of sound, and a distinct sense of worldly unease, as guitarist/vocalist Jack Mellin bitterly sneers, “I need someone to remind me / How to participate away from this hell / Ah, well.” And the thundering “Sides” takes them neatly into pissed-off Stooges territory (“You were telling lies!”), to exhilarating effect.
Alas, Mellin’s vocal shortcomings are pronounced on the sleepy, languid “Metronome River,” which causes the record to drag for a few minutes. And “Floating with You” mostly comes up short in its earnest attempts at early Pink Floyd–ish psychedelia. The rest of it is actually quite good, though, with several of the songs doing that great British guitar band thing—a dash of the abstract, a lot of jangly-but-forceful 1992-era Ride, and a not small amount of skillfully employed pedal effects.
But it’s perhaps one line from “Starry Eyes” that will linger most: “Let’s do something / That doesn’t involve getting fucked up on a sense of pride.” It really makes you wonder what the next record will bring.