Moving sideways from Preston School of Industry and in advance of the much hyped reformation of the mighty Pavement, Scott Kannberg has created his first solo album under his stage monicker of Spiral Stairs. What else he’s been working on for the last five years I’ve no idea, but the time spent on this mixed bag of 11 songs has generally been well used although I found my attention wandering at around the halfway point.
Many of the tracks herein lean towards the melancholic and are alt. country in style (‘Blood Money’, ‘A Mighty Mighty Fall’, ‘Wharf-Hand Blues’) with some particularly sweet steel guitar on the first of those three. The album starts off in fine shape though with ‘True Love’ with its ringing guitars and crashing cymbal work. ‘Cold Change’ is another poppier cut, with a decent bounce in its step and cheery organ usage all the way through. ‘Subiaco Shuffle’ begins fairly rocky with good pace but becomes a bit of a plodding Cajun-esque stomp for the greater part of its five minutes before belatedly rocking out.
Properly rocky (punky even), and the best track on the album, is the short, sharp number ‘Stolen Pills’. A couple more songs in this vein would have significantly raised the record’s profile – not maybe to the level of any of Stephen Malkmus’s post-Pavement work but in terms of similar albums from 2009 it would have matched Lou Barlow’s I’m sure and definitely would have been better than Cass McCombs’ Catacombs. As it stands this is merely a decent effort that’s not likely to get many more plays in my house so going back to his old job with SM and the other guys is certainly no bad career move on Kannberg’s part.