Instrumentally, Spiral Beach is more or less like any other Canadian indie rock band with gritty guitars and the occasional buzzy keyboard. On The Only Really Thing, however, the Toronto four-piece draws on a much stranger set of influences, sounding most often like a post-punk version of Beirut’s Balkan gypsy folk.
Lead single “Domino” is the most straight-forward tune of the bunch, mixing fuzzy speed rock riffs with sudden start-stops and a punk tinged, radio-ready chorus. Things get bizarre on “Orange,” a gently harmonized acoustic ballad that threatens to explode at any moment. It never does. Instead it morphs into a cello-driven, Eastern-inflected waltz. “After Midnite” has a bombastic cabaret swagger, but in place of pianos and horns, it opts for a minimalist bass groove and an arena-sized chorus hook. Elsewhere, “May Go Round (in a Mania)” is grounded by a robotic techno pulse and the breezy “Cemetary” cops its melody from Blondie’s “Call Me.”
What’s most surprising about this disorienting mish-mash of influences is how organic it all sounds. Inexplicable title aside, The Only Really Thing never seems affected or unnecessarily quirky—it sounds like the product of an eclectic record collection rather than a pretentious art project with envelope pushing aspirations. It is, at its core, a pop album—albeit a very weird one.