That the Glasgow quartet Spinning Coin ended up on the record label run by the Pastels is no great coincidence. As Permo, their excellent debut for Geographic proves, the two bands share many of the same musical traits and processes. They both make introspective, searching, self-conscious music that's catchy, but not hooky. The songs don't jump out at you very often; one has to take the time to let them bake fully. Sometimes they have to be coaxed out of the meandering stream of twanging guitars, gently struck drums, and wandering bass before they can be appreciated. It's an odd kind of anti-pop pop that manages to create a mood that's hard to shake. The Pastels have had many years to master their diffident and exacting approach to crafting their sound; Spinning Coin are a little newer at it, and not surprisingly, there are some rough edges and moments when the band veers outside the lines just a little. Mostly these moments occur when guitarist Jack Mellin takes the reins; his songs and vocals are more insistent and a little wild. The band sounds fired up and very loose on "Tin," almost punk rock urgent on "Sides," and rambling on "Money Is a Drug," which is a nice contrast from the songs of the band's other songwriter, Sean Armstrong. He's much more relaxed and likely to wander off downstream in a melancholy reverie, like on "Metronome River" and "Floating with You." The songs can't be split in half quite so easily, as Mellin has the occasional quiet moment and some of Armstrong's songs raise a ruckus. The rollicking "Raining on Hope Street" is probably the best of these, pairing a lovely melody with some ripping guitar work. There are a few other times, like "Be Free" and "Sleepless," when the band really puts it all together and threatens to make a pop song, the kind the album's co-producer Edwyn Collins is so well known for. Like Edwyn though, even the poppiest moments contain a twist of the knife, and they never stray too far from the teachings of the Pastels. Permo is a fine work by a band finding its feet; a rousing rumble through the wilds of Scottish pop; and the kind of record lovers of knotty guitars, deadpan (but deep) emotions, and undersold (but undeniably lasting) melodies should recognize and embrace like an old friend in new clothing.
Share this page
AllMusic Review by Tim Sendra