Cold Specks, aka Canada’s Al Spx, will release her debut album ‘I Predict A Graceful Expulsion’ next week (21st May) so we asked her to talk us through the album, track by track, in an exclusive guide to her ‘Doom Soul’ album.
1. The Mark
Shockingly, this song initially started out as a short noise-pop song full of distortion and reverb. I went over to my producer Jim’s apartment to work on some songs one day. I jokingly turned it into a Smog song. Jim and his brother Noel really liked it. So, I decided to keep it. Should I be saying these things?
2. Heavy Hands
I wrote this when I was living with my friend Noel. His roommate had gone away for a month and a half. I was homeless and immediately weaseled my way in. Noel was in many bands and was always out. I didn’t have a laptop to entertain myself. I also was stone-broke and could barely afford to eat. I lived off of baked fuckin’ beans for days. Jim was living above Noel and brought my guitar in from Wembley one day. I wrote this song then. It was the product of complete and utter boredom. I was also in a bit of a state that week. A couple of days later we went to Monnow Valley to record the album.
3. Winter Solstice
This song is about a pact I made with a boy when I was a kid. It’s one of the oldest songs in the collection. We decided to transfer it on to a piano within the first session. Despite being one of the busier tracks, it came together quite quickly. There are two different choirs (the London Community Gospel Choir and the Porthcawl Male Voice Choir) on the song.
4. When the City Lights Dim
I wrote this song with Pete who is the guitarist in the band. I’d had difficulties with it for years. There was this melody and some of my favourite lyrics but the chords where shit. There was no way around it. They were shit. I went to Pete for help and he made it all better. It’s a miserable song about aimlessly wandering the streets of Toronto.
This is another song written at Noel’s. It’s about my imaginary childhood friend/demon named Hector. This song didn’t quite come together until Rob sat down and started playing that beat. I want this song to scare people. This is the band’s favourite mix.
The first half of this song was written three years before the second half. I wrote the second section of the song shortly before we initially demoed up in Monnow Valley. It’s about family, a crisis of faith, and one sad little girl.
7. Elephant Head
I wrote the words to this song before the guitar part. It is also a very old song. It has the lyric ‘I predict a graceful expulsion’ which is the title of the album. I didn’t know Jim was recording this. I was sitting in the recording room waiting for him. I’d been practicing this song before recording ‘Blank Maps’. Jim had walked in and pressed record. I had no idea. It ended up on the album.
8. Send Your Youth
I have lost count of the amount of arguments that occurred about the arrangement of this particular song. It came together after two years. But, man, what a long two years it was. It was my least favourite song to begin with and my favourite by the end.
9. Blank Maps
Jim sent me an email asking if I had enough material for a show. I sent him a list of songs. ‘Lay Me Down’ was not on the list. I refused to play it. I didn’t want it on the album and I sure as hell did not want to play it. Jim told me that without the song the set would be too short. About an hour later, I sent him an email with a demo for this song.
This song may take awhile to build but when it gets there it is loud. I think it’s about love and madness. One of the highlights on the album for me is Terry Edwards’ sax skills on this song. That man is a beast.
11. Lay Me Down
‘Lay Me Down’ is the first song I ever wrote and the song I fought off most. I didn’t want it on the album for the longest time. I thought it was too sad and too simple. It hadn’t evolved much over the years and I was just sick of it. It took a lot of convincing to get me to put it on. It is now the album closer. I think I didn’t want it on the record because it means the most to me. The thought of playing this song over and over again scares the shit out of me. I guess I’m going to have to deal with it.
Cold Specks will release ‘I Predict A Graceful Expulsion’ on 21st May via Mute.