Review: Courage My Love’s SPECTRA
On Friday, May 1st, Canadian rock band Courage My Love released their sixth EP, SPECTRA. It’s their first release since 2017’s Synesthesia and subsequent walk away from Warner Canada; all of the songs on SPECTRA were produced and released without a label. The band has been releasing songs off the EP since June of 2019 with the single drop of “Teenagers” (which we reviewed at the time), but the release of Courage My Love’s SPECTRA includes three tracks that at least I have never heard before!
I’ve been listening to Courage My Love since 2015, and although their sound has changed and grown a lot since then, they are absolutely still a band I love listening to. I’m thrilled that they’re continuing to make music and excited for them to be doing it on their own terms. Check out the track-by-track review of SPECTRA after the jump!
Track By Track
- Teenagers – this song is a banger, a ridiculously catchy pop-punk earworm you won’t be able to get out of your head. I had it on repeat on my way to and from work for a couple weeks straight after its initial drop last year. It definitely sends me screaming right back to high school. I mean, you know who they are: the ones who ruled the school, the top dogs, the popular kids. Some people never truly leave high school, do they? They spend the rest of their lives chasing that same high, wearing their letterman jackets well into their 50s, living out their days in the same town that birthed them. On some level, of course I get it. Why wouldn’t you want to stay somewhere that was so good to you? But we know nothing gold can stay, pony boy, so at some point you’ve gotta grow up, move on, and realize that sometimes the grass really is greener on the other side. “Teenagers” is a fantastic piece of musical nostalgia that makes you want to hop into a beat-up old Ford and drive off into the sunset.
- Original – this song is packed chock-full of 80s references, try and catch them all! “Original” is an absolutely beautiful song, heartfelt and synth-heavy. I honestly just have so many questions about this song. “How many 80s references can we squish into one song and still have it make sense?” (Mission accomplished!) The harmonies in the chorus are mind-blowing, but that’s not a surprise; being twins, Mercedes and Phoenix do better harmonies than the average bear, and it’s always been one of my favorite things about Courage My Love’s songs.
- Girls – this song’s staccato-guitar verses fit so perfectly with the almost sad-sounding tribute in the chorus to “Girls Just Wanna Have Fun”. The bridge of this song is somehow both spooky and empowering. I really love the message of this song (not to mention the video!!) and how outspoken the band has become regarding women’s issues. “Suffocate your feelings, don’t wanna tell a soul. Emotional, keep it all in, gotta be in control.” That is a true peek into toxic masculinity and the way boys are encouraged from a very young age to not show any emotion (unless it’s anger, of course). Guys, it’s fine. Girls don’t need you to be manly or to prove yourself or any of that. Girls just wanna be loved.
- Slow Motion – of the songs the band had released already, this song is my favorite (although I think now maybe “Original” has taken its spot. It’s like Sophie’s Choice over here, y’all), although I’m not sure I can put my finger on why. Some mornings I’d wake up and it would be the first thing stuck in my head, even without having listened to it recently. It’s just so ridiculously catchy (not to mention fun to sing)! The fall from falsetto to chest voice in the chorus is a phenomenal thing to listen to.
- Harlequin Romance – the chorus is my favorite part of this song. This song is about two people who seem to want completely different things. “And I don’t wanna be in love, now you don’t wanna just be friends.” There’s an interesting history behind actual Harlequin Romances; Harlequin Enterprises was a Canadian publisher that started publishing women’s romance novels in 1949 (the first of which was The Manatee by Nancy Bruff). They had a reader service that sent books to people who agreed to purchase six books per month; these books were the Harlequin Romances. The books, obviously, targeted single women. This speaks to the fictional nature of the relationship in the song (“it’s all in your head”). This is a wonderful historical reference and bonus points for the Canadian link!
- Everybody’s Lonely – I really love the bassline in this song! This song is about someone realizing that you’re, well, not alone in feeling alone. We’re all lonely, we’re all dealing with our own problems, and we all have that in common. This song hits especially hard right now, to a world under quarantine: we’re all a lot lonelier than usual. Thank goodness bands are still able to release new music, because I’d probably go stir-crazy otherwise! “You’re dreaming about me, or the people that we used to be, when dreaming was easy– getting older seems so new to me.”
- Sleeptalker – coming in at only 2:15, this song winds up feeling like less of a full-fledged song and more of an outtro (or epilogue? Eulogy, even?). That doesn’t make it bad by any stretch of the imagination; in fact, the song ends up feeling positively ethereal and is a fantastic ending to the album. The slow build of instruments and sound effects and vocals is a killer, especially when it all cuts out with no warning to drop back down to a simple set of chords.
Let’s be real here: I’ve never been a fan of 80s music. It’s so kitschy and annoying and I’ve never liked that it’s been making a resurgence. That’s what makes Courage My Love’s SPECTRA such a pleasant surprise, because it is none of those things. It manages to perfectly capture the essence of the 80s without actually sounding like it came from there. Courage My Love’s SPECTRA is the epitome of a cruiser album. Leave your house at one o’clock in the morning, climb in your car, crank this album up, and just drive. Enjoy the yellow of the streetlights sliding across your windshield, the chilled night air streaming in through the window. It truly is an original.
You can find Courage My Love’s SPECTRA wherever you listen to music (i.e., Spotify, Apple Music, etc.). Check our their linktr.ee for quick links to all their platforms!