Published Aug 22, 2014When Al Spx began her musical career as Cold Specks two years ago, she didn't realize that she would assume another profession: acting. Upon releasing her Polaris Music Prize short-listed album, I Predict A Graceful Expulsion, Spx was thrust onto stages around the world, having to deal with the unexpected task of presenting her work to a public audience.
"I turned into an actress." Spx explains the transformation as a necessity in order to keep her guard up and not get swallowed by the sparse music and dated lyrics she had created, another growing frustration. "I'm a performer. It would just be unnatural to think about something that happened to you five years ago, day in and day out."
Although Spx maintains that she was just elated to be employed, in a sense she was thoroughly tired of her songs and her life onstage, calling the experience "equal parts exciting and overwhelming." So last year, she set out to Somerset, UK (and later Montreal and Toronto) to write a new set of songs that she would not grow weary of. Whereas I Predict A Graceful Expulsion was written in the privacy of Spx's own world, her latest collection on sophomore effort Neuroplasticity were written "for the people, I guess."
The resulting ten songs are a significant shift for Spx in many ways, both sonically and lyrically. Admittedly more playful and, as she says, "fun for me to sing to people," tracks like "A Broken Memory" and "Absisto" have taken her morose, almost gothic aesthetic and injected it with more swollen atmospherics, now bursting with horns and organs yet still keeping the spotlight on Spx's bewitching voice. Even single "Bodies At Bay" boasts a decidedly more rock sound, something she has also warmed up to live, transforming some of her older songs into "prog-rock" jams.
As for the lyrics, Spx also admits that she has zoomed out and rather focus in on her specific emotions, she is now choosing her words more wisely. "I was a little more careful on this record," she says, having learned from previous efforts.
"It still covers a wide range of emotions," she assures. "But I think I became acutely aware of the fact that once you release a record, it no longer belongs to you and it's just unnatural to be consistently exposing yourself."