The Spring Standards, Would Things Be Different

I’ve posted about The Spring Standards here before, most recently when they played a show locally with Wakey! Wakey!, but haven’t really deconstructed their latest album Would Things Be Different even though it has rarely left the car CD player since that live show.

I’d rather just listen, truthfully, because every time I sit down to analyze the disc I get caught up in the sheer pop bliss of songs such as “Sharks” or “Skyline”, both centered around the voice of Heather Robb. She’s not a perfect singer (but she’s not off-key or off-putting, either) and that’s part of her charm–she sounds like the indie-rock equivalent of the girl next door.

James Cleare and James Smith are the other two legs of this hybrid musical species, and while it’s not necessary to know and enjoy the recording it should be noted that the three members of the group all play several instruments, sometimes at the same time as in the various percussion and drum pieces that are shared, making an actual dedicated drummer unnecessary.

Together, the trio alternate between sassy, theatrical pop and gentle Seventies-inspired melodies, sometimes within the same song. Robb is the focal point of the best tracks, from the pair mentioned above to the epic, “Trouble,” which starts with a quietly contemplative lament and ends with a brisk instrumental coda that sets a mood just as vividly as the song’s lyrics.

Cleare and Smith, instead of being merely the two guys in the band with Robb, contribute some memorable moments of their own. There’s the upbeat acoustic rave-up, “The Hush,” for example, and the gorgeously rendered “Bells and Whistles,” which sounds like a lost collaboration between Paul Simon and Brian Wilson. It’s this tune which has permanently lodged in the jukebox of my mind lately, and that situation has only been exacerbated by the recent posting of an equally beautiful video treatment of the song. For more on The Spring Standards, check out, and check out the “Bells and Whistles” video below as well as one from their recent Columbia, SC show.


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