Jump Start Records
I’m really torn listening to Aspiga’s recent full length, Tense. On the one hand, the New Jersey-born indie punk soloist has put a lot of thought into each track, hand selecting contributing friends and instruments on a song-by-song basis. But on the flip side, when played out, nothing harmonizes quite as planned. Imagine a once vibrant t-shirt faded after too many times in the wash and you’ll know the look and feel of most tracks.
Aspiga takes after soft-spoken indie acts like Death Cab For Cutie, but twists inflections subtly, slurring endings and sloppily trailing on like a Tim Armstrong side-project. On that note, vocals are far fromAspiga’s strong point. If frontman Kevin Day were in a boxing match, he’d get knocked out in the first round. He simply lacks any “punch.”
On opener “I Am,” his voice lacks consistency, and during choruses his paralleled support struggles for synchronicity. When deepening his voice, like on “ADjust And Then ADjust,” he achieves little sense of the dynamic development that the song so desperately needs.
Such an unfulfilling performance also makes lyrics a vector of thwarted potential. Aspiga really sings to what they know, and what they know is their experience on the road, with all the emotions accompanying traveling across a country. “Everyone is a stranger, everyone is becoming stranger” speaks Day on “Head To Curb” as he longs for the familiarity of Jersey; at other times embracing sleepless nights spent with friends on stage (“Goodnight Virginia”). Sometimes he longs for escape from the everyday (“Dear Self”), making the focus deeply personal. Sady though, inconsistency masks these revelations.
That being said, once acclimatized to the deceptively shallow presentation, some deeper roots take hold. For instance, between the drums’ interesting tap-n-go tempo, intermittent strumming of acoustic guitars, and Look Mexico-like chord selection, the title track really gets under your skin. The same can be said about “Routinely,” with some spot on woahs making for a pleasantly meandering sing along melody. Likewise, the trumpet on “It Was Windy” latches on to the melodic accompaniment, harmonizes with pleasing efficiently.
In the end, Tense disappoints while baring plenty of thought, personality and charm. Even as a disappointment, it’s clear as day that Day has plans for , once ironing out all the inconsistencies standing to make a mark in the indie folk-punk scene – just bare in mind that it hasn’t happened yet.