Now celebrating their twentieth anniversary, The Spill Canvas have been treading a unique path for two decades. After a period of inactivity their eighth album, Conduit, finds them forging new ground by introducing new shades and textures whilst never losing sight of their core sound.
As if to make up for lost time, opening cut “Architects” doesn’t mess around. With little in the way of preliminaries, it arrives fully formed and proceeds to throw a few nifty punches. In a move that echoes throughout Conduit there are plenty of sonic shifts which constantly repositions the listener. Like watching a music video which flits from scene to scene in double quick time, this cinematic album can be quite dizzying (in a nice way) as it swirls and snakes like film unspooling from a reel.
Conduit has been touted as a comeback album but The Spill Canvas have never really gone away. Sure it’s been nine long years since their last full length (Gestalt) but 2018’s Hivemind EP eased the wait somewhat. This album evidences a band with a desire to keep evolving. Now in their twenties, they’re certainly not on a nostalgia trip and it has an energy which explodes from its grooves. Conduit works best when the guys let fly with the vivacious “Darkside” – it’s a defiant brand of rock with a dash of Coheed and Cambria and a twist of Sleeping With Sirens and the result is a 24-carat banger. With its vaguely disco undertones it swings with a real groove and is sure to fill the floors wherever it’s spun.
Obviously, a leopard can’t change its spots yet it can act in unexpected ways. Long term fans needn’t worry, it’s the same Spill Canvas drawing sound from a broad palette but it’s delivered with wiser heads. That maturity is most notable in a world-weary (but wry) lyricism and the manner in which they’re delivered. Nick Thomas’ vocals have aged well, as if an oak barrel, and he’s added some interesting inflections to his delivery that will surprise fans but his voice is equally suited to all out rockers like the aptly titled “Firestorm” or the fateful resignation of “Gallon”.
It must be hard for a band of The Spill Canvas’ vintage to resist the lucrative pull of becoming a “heritage” act, the well-trodden brick road of nostalgia tours and greatest hits albums. It’s a path the band have resisted and subsequently Conduit sounds fresh and vital.
Conduit is out now