Craft Spell's Debut Album Review, Idle Labor (2011)

Seattle born, Justin Vallesteros initially conceived his experimental bedroom Dream Pop project in California back in 2009 before returning to Seattle to recruit three other mucicians that would go on and form Craft Spells. As the result, Idle Labor debuted in 2011.

At first, I picked up the album because of the artwork that intrigued me. The album cover display an image of pastel-coloured bouquet of flowers in a dream-like haze, immediately reminded me of New Order's classic Power, Corruption & Lies. Perhaps it is in connection with Vallesteros's adoration of New Wave that is clearly shown in his music. Idle Labor replicates a nostalgic rendition of 80's-inspired synths reviving Dream Pop in a vibrant and fresh take that avoid the crowd of overused present-day dreamy brand of Shoegaze. Wild Nothing and Beach Fossils succeeded in reviving the genre aswell, however Vallesteros's take on this debut LP is subtle, honest and endearing in the right manner distiguishing its own personality.

Idle Labor is best decribed by the album's first single "After the Moment" that evokes imagery of daydreaming with surfy guitar patterns that is easy to pick up to. "Beauty Above All" also one of the album's highlight and my personal favorite , and then there's "Scandinavian Crush" with the electronic drums to prove it and lyric "if not tomorrow, when will it be when can I see you please?" repeated in a sweet way, "You Should Close the Door" has bassy edge aswell as "Given the Time", the upbeat "Your Tomb", "Ramona" with the simple groove, "Party Talk" with pretty instrumental and Vallesteros's light voice swaying in the background in reminiscent of Morrissey. In many parts of the track, Vallesteros's voice recede to the background in slight echo and distanced effect to let the music riffs vibrant, driven hooks of the music instead of the lyrics.

All the tracks in the record flows well into one another and giving the highs and lows of emotion. Lyrically, Idle Labor is quite a lovesick record despite how upbeat some of the tunes are. Capturing scenes in the background combination of a longing love in summer days aswell a carefree and the naive of youthful. The record isn't exactly innovative but it marks an excellent beginning for an auteur's debut in control within a genre. It is an escapist record of melancholic lyrics and danceable sound.

If you need The Cure, New Order, The Smiths or other familiar drug, grab this album and feel the fresh nostalgic!

Favorite Tracks: After the Moment, Scandinavian Crush, Party Talk, Beauty Above All
My rate: 8.5 / 10

image taken from


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