‘Struck Gold’ is Manchester band Sprinters’ follow up to their self-titled debut album and comes via Spanish label Meritorio Records. Their sound is washed out jangle pop that immediately brings to mind New Jersey band Real Estate, aligned with the slacker attitude of Mac DeMarco.
Opening instrumental title track ’Struck Gold’ is instantly recognisable in that it’s hard not to hear Cornershop’s “Brimful of Asha” in the opening chords, although the chords eventually shit and a lead guitar part takes the song in a different direction as synths swirl around.
Second single ‘3’s & 4’s’, which follows, is a cracking song and the first glimpse of singer Neil Jarvis’s heavily delayed vocals that sit somewhere between the laid back, almost stoned style of Kurt Vile and the poppier moments of Ariel Pink (think ‘Round and Round’ in particular). Melodically there’s a Dinosaur Jr feel, particularly in the chorus. It’s easy to imagine the lyrics “it is what it is, there’s no escaping it” and the vocal melody coming out of the cracked throat of J Mascis.
‘Missing’, is a great tune with a strong, relentless guitar line that repeats throughout. With heavier production and played faster it would be an absolute ripper. Instead it retains the dream pop vibe, going for some phase effects in the guitar solo towards the end.
It’s a style that reminds us of the brilliant yet short lived Oxford band Beta Blocker And The Body Clock.
‘The Light’ is a joy. The bass is really prominent, at times chopping up then driving the song along, the drums are allowed to skitter playfully underneath while synths and guitars swell and distort. The vocals float on top with a beautiful melody. ‘Ending’ carries on the themes we’ve seen thus far although it lets rip with some gnarled distortion and feedback which satisfyingly cuts through the mix before the band jam like Brighten The Corners era Pavement with chiming guitars that eventually fade out.
‘Demolition’ again brings a J Mascis melody but mixes things up with a Yo La Tengo style bossa nova beat. Lyrically Jarvis uses very simple ear wormy phrases that get easily lodged in your head. The choruses on ‘Struck Gold’ are not often more than two or three words repeated. ‘It’s Gone’ is a good example of this. Musically it brings the band back into more upbeat territory, fizzing along to a classic indie pop drumbeat while the chorus “and it’s gone and it’s gone” repeats. The band seem to truly take the shackles off collectively on second instrumental track ‘Scream 2’. The guitars are fuzzy, the drums are stronger and the catchy hooks are front and centre.
This is the closest they get to playing full blown indie rock, which makes for a nice contrast.
In fact, the final few tracks in the whole shift the dynamic a little and this works in Sprinters’ favour. ‘Virtue’ feels more open. It’s not quite so swamped in reverb. This is also the case for ‘Undone’. The vocals are a little clearer, the production brighter. The drums kick more, the guitar solo with its flickering tremolo effect sounds great. We’re just guessing here but it might perhaps point to these songs being recorded in a separate session.
‘Struck Gold’ closes on a stunted, slow and tripped out reprise of the opening title track, serving as the bread for a solid, enjoyable sandwich. Worth indulging in.
You may enjoy this if you like: Real Estate, Yo La Tengo, J Mascis and the Fog, Kurt Vile, Mac DeMarco, Beta Blocker And The Body Clock