Special Explosion – To Infinity review

Secret Meeting score: 74

by Philip Moss

“Rock stars don’t die,’ whispers Special Explosion’s Andy Costello on Skeleton – one of a number of brilliant indie, pop tunes taken from their debut album, To Infinity. Unfortunately however, in the week that we’ve remembered David Bowie’s death, it’s a difficult line to make sense of. But his sentiment is clear. Great music leaves a legacy and it’s clear that Costello and co. have been listening with open ears.

Hailing from Seattle, Special Explosions have more in common with the Pacific Northwest than just geography. Over looping guitars, album opener Wet Dream is the best Death Cab for Cutie song that Death Cab For Cutie haven’t written in years. ‘It’s time. I’ve been ready for a long while,’ Costello ambiguously sings before the Twin Peaks evoking chorus asks, ‘Do you think that you should really live inside a dream within a dream?’ 

The band have come a long way since signing to Seattle’s Topshelf Records in 2014, when they released their debut EP, The Art Of Mothering. Skeleton was mostly recorded in Seattle at ex-DCfC guitarist, Chris Walla’s studios, Hall of Justice, and the work of co-producer, Mike Vernon-Davis, must not go unmentioned. The record is filled with luscious synths, gorgeous glockenspiels and Lizzy Costello’s tastefully layered backing vocals, all of which sprinkle the appropriate amount of atmospheric fairy dust onto these already gleaming pop gems.

Other notable Pacific Northwest vibes that shine through are The Shins and Modest Mouse- highlighted particularly on the album’s most beautiful moment, Gladiator, and through the campfire strum of Waterfalls. But I must emphasise, Special Explosions are not a hotchpotch of influences that don’t equal the sum of their parts. No – this is a throwback debut album that conjures up the fondest of memories of the golden days of indie pop.