Craft Spells are 80’s synth-pop fetishists, and damn good ones at that. For a young band, this Seattle quartet has its skinny Duckie (as in Pretty in Pink) ties wrapped firmly around the romantic New Wave vibe. This style of John Hughes nostalgia was ushered in with M83’s “Kim & Jessie”, and from there, bands like Wild Nothing and Twin Shadow have picked up the torch. Craft Spells land somewhere in the middle of those two bands, and their new EP, Gallery, acts as a brief, six-track victory lap after their excellent 2011 album Idle Labor.
“Come on Sandy/You won’t see us in the dark/Will you come with me?” sings Justin Vallestero on “Sun Trails”. This song, like others on Gallery, carries the reckless notion of “fuck the world and let’s just love each other because isn’t that enough?” Further expounding upon on this idea is “Warmth”, as Vallestro confesses to a lover, “As I lay here in front of you/There is nothing else I’d rather do.” This is all backed by new drummer Andy Lum, whose claustrophobic beat lends a sense of immediacy to the track.
Even the song titles carry with them that euphoria of puppy love. On “Burst”, Lum continues to impact his new group by providing a beat that pulsates with a fluttering anxiety of being love-struck. Couple that with Vallestro’s peppy Ian Curtis-styled crooning 0on lines like “This night’s our song/I really like you/Let’s get away,” and you have yet another romantic crusher.
The lone flaw of this EP is that it could have been released as a bonus disc to Idle Labor, as it plays seamlessly with their debut. Gallery does little to further their musical template, but piggybacked with Idle Labor, it does cement Craft Spells as a contemporary master of the genre. And, if you are looking to keep that romantic night alive, or simply to daydream your way into the fictional reality of Shermer, IL with the likes of Andie, Duckie, and Blane, then this EP will keep the fantasy alive for 25 bonus minutes.
Essential Tracks: “Sun Trails”, “Burst”, and “Warmth”