BY MICHAEL TOLAND
When an artist lives in thrall to a certain era – the ‘70s, let’s say – it can mean one of two things. The band can be a complete retro throwback, with songwriting bordering on plagiarism and a vision close to parody. Or the act can be an honest revival, its aesthetic inspired and informed by the past, rather than enslaved to it.
Fortunately, Spiders hew to 2. Shake Electric, the Gothenburg quartet’s second LP, takes the hard-rocking proto-metal of its debut album Flashpoint and adds a glaze of rough ‘n’ tumble glam rock and, surprisingly, a dusting of sensitive vulnerability. The latter manifests in “Lonely Nights” and “Only Your Skin,” in which singer Ann-Sofie Hoyles injects real yearning into her blues-mama pipes and the band’s power trio attack, and in “Hard Times,” a soul-inflected midtempo track that’s a firm shoulder-squeeze to anyone who feels overwhelmed by modern life.
Hearts don’t always inhabit sleeves, however, as the combo keeps up its fast-growing reputation for asskicking burners with “Back On the Street,” “Mad Dog” and “War of the World,” which put Ann-Sofie’s thrusting self-confidence together with her husband John’s rifftastic six-stringery in a musical marriage as tight as the one they have at home. The band finds its ultimate expression in the title cut, which might have ruled AOR radio 40 years ago. Rock & roll this organic and gimmick-free may be unfashionable these days, but Spiders prove it’s still alive and kicking down doors.
DOWNLOAD: “Shake Electric,” “Back On the Street,” “Hard Times”