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Spray Paint - "Dopers" | Album Review

by Bobby Cardos (@bobbycardos)

Spray Paint isn’t catchy, or hooky. They don’t write earworms. Their guitars are more likely to sound metallic and percussive than anything like a guitar. When the guitar is recognizable as such, it is likely playing the same chord continuously. What their music is: infectious and hypnotizing, driving. The vocals are atonal, almost anti-melodic, and always sung in unison, so that it resembles a fucked up, post punk version of a Gregorian chant.

But there is nothing monastic about Spray Paint, as evidenced by their second full length of 2015 and most recent release, Dopers. Though they would never be considered a light band, the darkness on Dopers is more palpable than their other 2015 full length, Punters on a Barge. It’s sparser production allows the angularity of the guitars to feel more impactful, and foregrounds the vocals and lyrics. Though delivered with, at best, aggressive impassivity, they imply scenes varying from the darkly funny to the dark (see: first lines of the album opener “Bad Times”: “He’s got bags for shoes./ Why did you sit him next to me?/ Mumbling under his breath/ about microbes in my hair.”).

It may be the deadpan delivery itself that gives them their humor or impact, but it is probably the lyrics themselves that ultimately are what get Dopers stuck in your head. Since the music is driving and repetitive, the lyrics and nuances in delivery become the point of focus. This probably predisposes the listener to infer meaning where s/he shouldn’t, trying to decipher slight inflections the way one might read into the punctuation of a text message from a new acquaintance. But whether you find pleasure in deconstructing meaning from rock music (for the record, I don’t), there are real gems throughout Dopers. Walking around in silence, they pop into my head: “It’s time to put the dog down (“Signal Master”); “They’re never gonna find/ money buried in the sinkhole” (“Chris’s Theme)”; and my personal favorite, “That motherfucker’s had his shirt off since last October (“Thrash Master”).”

If these all sound stupid read out of context, you’re not wrong. But remembering them with the context makes me want to come back to this album (and many others) repeatedly. It’s not catchy. I know it’s not catchy. But after an adolescence and early adulthood of listening to weird shit from this trajectory within rock music, it starts to seem to me that it is. And if your brain has been broken in a similar way, I’d invite you to dive into Dopers; it’s not catchy, but you might enjoy it anyways.