Songs have stories, or are stories, or both, and the best ones are the ones that change with each listen or the more you know about them. With that in mind, we have Perth four-piece The Spunloves, whose frontmen have always divided their output in perfectly equal halves – the nuclear band setup that’s always in equilibrium. Their latest double A-side 7” is just that: David Vulin is responsible for Feather Leaves; Jordan Zu for Vomiting Up Flowers. Ushering them out into the world together was, as Zu puts it, “the most potent way” they could think of.
Second chances and facing old demons, are not things The Spunloves take lightly on their new double A-side Feather Leaves/Vomiting Up Flowers.
The tracks met each other for the first time the same night. Once emerged, fully formed, from that first session they were recorded on a reel-to-reel tape machine – a decision Vulin says helped ensure Feather Leaves to sound ‘organically dreamy’. What’s captured on this track is warm and rich, clean and uncomplicated, with beautifully elongated vocals, intensified by the blissful backing vocals of their drummer, Sam Kuzich; strung together by a jangly addictive riff that spins out into a roaring solo, before it’s stripped right out at the close. All painted with that cheerful buzz of reverb that’s so definitive of The Spunloves.
It’s optimistic, summer-strewn garage pop that makes you feel you should be lying in the backseat of an open top with your legs hanging over the side and endless road un-ribboning out in front. But it’s dark in undercurrents: Vulin wrote Feather Leaves after what he says felt like a near death experience, amplified by a lot of time spent finding out about ancient religions. “I got caught in a daydream,” he explains, “a deep thought vortex“, and that’s very much laced throughout the lyrics, with poignant, pensive vocals like “I very nearly lost myself to this big sleep / And my mind it almost got away in front of me“.
Its counterpart, Vomiting Up Flowers, sprung into life over the space of a couple of days in a back shed in the Northern Suburbs. The verse, consisting of just two chords strummed one after another preludes the rest of the track by a day, and the lyrics came all at once ‘in one stream of consciousness’. It crashes in with the buzz of angry bees, giving way almost immediately to reverb-slathered rock ’n’ roll that begs to be moved to and a contagious riff that gradually becomes all-encompassing. Those measured chords stay the right kind of chaotic, never fully tumbling into each other, and are layered under an anthemic chant that winds its way resolutely into your head.
Like Feather Leaves, Vomiting Up Flowers is another of those iceberg kinda songs, all kinds of tales going on in the belly of the lyrics. “I’ve never tried to write anything,” Zu recalls, “If I force it, it doesn’t work…so it’s always nice for the songs to come out without any calculated effort. They just drop into your lap from someplace else.” And this mentality was never more poignant than it was for this track, written about five months into his sobriety (he’s now just shy of two years). Alcohol is there, in the lyrics, tucked in every corner (his favourite line appears in the last verse; “Spending wasted light working for the man, wasn’t part of the master plan“). Zu describes it as a snapshot of his life at the time, “Being able to see the colours of flowers again; clean visions of love“.
Given its weight, it unsurprisingly holds such significance, and it is by considerable distance, the most personal of any song he’s ever penned. “Instead of me vomiting up my pay cheque, materialised in alcohol, I thought the only thing I’m going to be vomiting up from now on is gonna be flowers,” he explains, “I’m still me. I’m still raw and obscene, but I’m sober now.”
Feather Leaves / Vomiting Up Flowers is out 20 February.