Particularly nice on Confidence, though, is that the band have expanded their emotional range a bit. The a capella harmony open to “No Sudden Moves,” a three-part blend of Ken Maiuri, Ayerve, and O’Connell, is as fun as the lyrical and melodic bass that Maiuri features here and throughout the record. On former records, it sometimes seemed they didn’t know how to let their hair down, but they even have a tune here for the Twilight kids, “Vampire Love Song” (an awesome contrast and companion to Sparks the Rescue’s “We Love Like Vampires,” actually), and “Impressed by You” is downright happy, sun-shiney pop: “I’m gonna marry you, I swear it/I’m gonna take you everywhere, I swear.”
They throw back to their roots, too, with “59,” maybe the best song on the album, sung in Spanish, but somehow conveying that classic Spouse nostalgia over a cool shuffling beat (not all that different than Mos Def’s “Quiet Dog Bite Hard,” actually) produced by O’Connell with tambourine and brushes on the snare, and just a dash of country/western. Nozomi turned this trick, too, with “Ni Una Sola Vez,” and it’s no small feat that through 10 years and a half-dozen line-up changes Spouse have managed to both evolve their sound and create a signature sound that’s recognizable in a couple measures.
If you’re just coming to the band for the first time, don’t be ashamed. Ayerve’s as modest as they come and Spouse have always been a little easy to miss. But don’t miss a chance, either, to completely fall in love with them, because that’s easy, too.
Sam Pfeifle can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
CONFIDENCE | Released by Spouse | on Nine Mile Records, May 18 | see them at Bowdoin College SolarFest | May 8 @ 3 pm | spousemusic.com