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14 February 2016

Gleaming Spires - 'Walk on Well Lighted Streets' (PVC/Posh Boy)

I was about to start writing about what a grammatical mess the title is, but then I flipped over the lyrics sheet and found the explanation - it's a photo of an advertisement on a park bench in Korea, where the English has been misapplied. That oughta give you some idea of the level of sophistication of the Gleaming Spires, returning with their second album from 1983. It's not a deviation from the sound of the first one, though they've expanded from a duo into a real 'band' here. The MTV 80s are in full-effect now, and while I doubt the Spires every got any airtime, I bet they were trying. The humour has been dialed down somewhat, and the band photo on the back sleeve is totally new wave fresh. There's still a wry wink in some of the songwriting - 'Big Surprise', the catchiest tune, is actually about how someone fears they will bring darkness and misery to another person, though you wouldn't tell this from the way it's being sung. There's a lot of sadness, or at least pessimism, throughout -- 'At Together' is cynical and 'Mining' is drenched in self-doubt. The title track again seems to be about danger and has a hint of sexual violence, though compared to the last album's 'How To Get Girls Through Hypnotism' I suppose I should be thankful the Spires are content with just an implication. While everything is a bit brighter and better produced, there's less of that homemade white pop weirdo vibe -- they still mostly sound like Sparks, but that first album also sounded a bit like Shoes, and that 'influence' (if it actually was one) is absent here. 'Fun Type' could almost be a punk song, or maybe just a more aggressive version of Huey Lewis and the News. They had a third album, 1985's Welcoming the New Ice Age, and I'm genuinely unsure if I should buy a copy off discogs for 4€, or get rid of these two - I'd rather be a Gleaming Spires completist or not own anything by them, but this in-between is just unacceptable. I get pretty bored by the end of this record, which despite it's cool cover (which looks like this should be on Ralph Records) fails to take enough chances to really stand out for me; so most likely this gets jettisoned during the next purge.

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