Paste (magazine) - "There's an ethos at work, a controlled chaos, and it's a brilliantly orchestrated jam session."
Personnel: Marcus Gordon (vocals, acoustic guitar, electric guitar); Liam Gordon (guitar, piano, synthesizer); Frank Seligman, Tracy Dunn (violin); Brian Sherwood (viola); Paul Ledwon (cello); Will Clifton (double bass); Nath Mansfield (drums, timpani, percussion).
Audio Mixer: Tony Buchen.
Recording information: ARC Studios, Omaha, NE (07/2015).
Photographer: Mitchell McLennan.
With each release, the music of Sydney, Australia's Spookyland has only grown grander and more poetic, and Beauty Already Beautiful is no exception. Starting as the rootsy solo project of Marcus Gordon, Spookyland took a big step forward when it became a full-band affair with the 2013 single "The Silly Fucking Thing," and an even bigger one when the group collaborated with producer Tony Buchen on the fittingly named Rock and Roll Weakling EP. Though it was technically their second release, its newfound power -- and fragility -- felt like a true introduction to the band. Reuniting with Buchen on Beauty Already Beautiful, Gordon and company continue refining their potent mix of swaggering sounds and vulnerable words. Though the meditative bookends "Abuse" and "Bulimic" serve as reminders that Spookyland is still capable of songs as thoughtful as "The Silly Fucking Thing," the band spends most of the album tearing down and re-creating rock & roll. Gordon's nasal tenor -- which recalls Bob Dylan and Neutral Milk Hotel's Jeff Mangum -- is as divisive and distinctive as ever, but also more versatile and confident on songs like the poignant "Discipline" and the gritty "Rebellion." Likewise, the way pedal steel and acoustic guitar sit comfortably next to the amps on "Can't Own You" and the epic solo on "God's Eyes" make the most of the band's instrumental power. Beauty Already Beautiful's brightest highlights combine these strengths perfectly, with Gordon's stream-of-consciousness lyrics freshening the band's classic rock underpinnings while they anchor his words. "Nowhereland" is equally strutting and tender as Gordon sings "I won't pass through you like hell/I'll go to you like heaven." On "Big Head," Gordon puts his lover on a pedestal -- or maybe an altar -- when he sings "I swear her puberty was on the Mayan calendar/And that's why the world hasn't ended yet" as his bandmates let loose. Beauty Already Beautiful is bold, soul-baring proof that Spookyland knows the best rock & roll is all about unexpected contrasts; even when they nod to decades' worth of rock history, they sound vital, never lazy. ~ Heather Phares