by Morgan Reed Greenwood (@totemmotet)
On January 19th, Chicago band Great Deceivers put out their newest LP In Spirit. Following a series of releases dating back as far as 2010—three EPs, two LPs, and a split—In Spirit finds the band fully confident and in control of their craft. The record’s pace is consistently patient and smart. The songs march in big, heavy strides, always assured of where they’re going and of their current moment. No choices seem hesitant. This quality is often found in many of the best bands out of the Northeast in recent years, acts like Peaer, Horse Jumper of Love, Krill, and Pile, of which I also find to be decent benchmarks of this record’s sound.
Patient might be the most accurate adjective for In Spirit. For example, there are very few conspicuous production flourishes on the record until “Hope Machine/Another Life” (the eleventh track!), and even then not until after the four minute mark, with the line “in another life you’re not afraid to bare your teeth / and lick the blade.” Here, double tracked drums appear and the voice is distorted and delayed until it feeds back on itself. This is a wonderful moment that helps propel the track to its conclusion: a harrowing dissonant guitar chord repeated over and over.
A similar moment happens on the track “The Leash.” It begins with a loose, lounge singer vibe that slowly gains footing with the band gradually commenting on the rhythmically free vocal lines, something that almost had to have been recorded live. The section grows in volume and density until the one-minute mark, where the band abruptly kicks into the most up-tempo music on the whole album—the rest of the song is a straight rocker. If the song had started right there, much of the effect would have been lost. That contrast was necessary to propel the momentum forward and make it feel that much more grounded.
On “Orienteering,” the final lyrics “live in a secret place / where there’s no fight no flight / just blurry lines” take on special meaning with the vocal performance. The word “lines” is performed as a long melisma, taking up not one but twelve separate notes, itself a blurry line. The record is full of small, elegant embellishments such as this.
The ninth track, “Projection,” starts with the words “pulling out all of the stops that you’ve got/to kill a moment alone.” Clocking in at over forty minutes, In Spirit has pulled out enough of the stops and has enough heft to kill more than that moment alone. It is replayable and satisfying in the moment.