If you are still lucky enough to be a young student who has the pleasure of indulging in a spot og poetry you may have had an assignment that goes a little something like this...."For your homework tonight year ten I would like you to compose two original poems in the style of William Blake and Percy Shelly. You may not simply rearrange existing prose or verse to make it your own and you must keep to the same rhyme and metre as the original authors. You should try where you can to use the same language and, if at all possible, a similar subject matter."
In the case of North-Eastern quintet, Spokes, you could, if you were being harsh, substitute songs for poems and change Blake and Shelly for Coldplay and Arcade Fire. Their new debut album, 'Everyone I Ever Met', could conceivably be every band I/you/they ever listened to. Whilst all music is essentially a variation on a theme there is usually still enough creative difference, still some spark of originality, some defining note, vocal, arrangement or lyric that will set a new piece of music aside from that which it precedes. In 'Everyone I Ever Met' there are few sparks, only seldom caught half glimpses.
The album is awash with controlled harmonies, crescendos and percussive guitar notes. The musicianship is great, the songs are well structured and composed and the production, whilst not fantastic, is at least very professional. The vocals are well suited to the songs and the mix of arrangements and treatments is by no means flawed.
There is nothing wrong with this album.
There is also nothing particularly fantastic, inspiring or individual about this album.
Where 'Everyone I Ever Met' works best is on its longish (7mins 41secs) largely instrumental title track. The choral, organ and bass drum opening coupled with the guitar and string arrangement build nicely into a well developed piece. 'Give It Up To The Night' also plays to the bands astonishingly under utilised strength blending the a melancholic male/female vocal to the ever present, and consistently impressive, violin parts. Here, and later on in 'Happy Needs Colour', there is a solitary piano that rather than yearning for accompaniment in its isolation makes the track all the more effective, far more so than the repeated chorus that is the opener, 3 4 5.
As a debut you could argue that Spokes have done little wrong with 'Everyone I Ever Met'. Maybe the safe option is the wise option, you still want to be around to make album number two after all. If you can try not sing..."Never meant to cause you any sorrow" occasionally throughout the album, if you like Arcade Fire, Athlete and even David Gilmour's solo work 'On An Island'. If you're not looking for a vast change or difference in your musical choices and you like any, or all, of the above artists.......then why not?