Spinning Coin's debut album, Permo, was classic low-key indie pop all full of burnished melancholy, intertwined guitars, keen observations, and reverb-heavy production. Songwriters Sean Armstrong and Jack Mellin both proved adept at dishing out songs that were shyly catchy and a little bit weird around the edges, and the band delivered them with a light, almost ghostly touch. On Hyacinth, the weirdness takes center stage and the group blows up the measured restraint found on the debut to come up with a sound that's rambling, woolly, and a little bit unhinged. Armstrong and Mellin seem to have made a pact to each get about 50 percent less inhibited, both in their writing and the way they deliver the songs vocally. Armstrong unleashes his warbly, high-pitched voice in fine Tom Verlaine style throughout the album, throwing off any shackles and just letting it rip. Mellin, too, adds some power and grit to his more classically indie style; on tracks like the rumbling "Get High" he comes across so forcefully one wonders if someone outside the band hijacked the mic. Along with the looser, sometimes wayward, singing the pair bring to the record, the songs cut a wider swath through the indie pop landscape this time around. Permo felt very tethered to a melancholy, post-Pastels sound; here Spinning Coin begin the album with a genre-defying track, "Avenues of Spring," that sounds a little like a drunk Verlaine fronting Destroyer as they play an outer space waltz, then take off in all directions. "Feel You More Than the World Right Now" is a buoyant slice of Postcard Records pop given extra juice by Armstrong's strangled wail of a vocal, "Ghosting" is insistent post-punk with jangling minor-key guitars and buzzing synths, "It's Alright" is rugged '90s rock with interesting guitar chords and powerful vocals from Mellin, and bassist Rachel Taylor turns in the album's nicest moment with the gently swinging late-night soul ballad "Black Cat." As the album swerves along gleefully, it's hard to predict what will come next, but it's clear that the band have invested the album with a dose of energy and excitement that was missing on the otherwise fine Permo. They sound like a group with a burning desire to make music that punches hard and leaves a deep impression when it connects. It does so more often than not, and even when the band dial down the intensity a little, like on the lilting "Soul Trader," they still play with enough fire to leave a searing mark. Their debut album promised a lot; Hyacinth makes good on that and then some. Spinning Coin work hard to expand their sound in interesting ways, and the end result of their efforts is an album that's challenging, bracing, and almost defiantly, certainly thrillingly, unique.
by Tim Sendra