A high school senior from New York City, Emily Spector has wasted no time in beginning her music career, leading her own punk rock band in their first release, Departed Qualities. Spector’s history as a classically trained violinist bleeds over into her current project, a raw, yet harmonic blend of punk, alternative and pop rock styles.
Ambient, ethereal chords comprise the intro of “Dragon Baby” before the track transitions into an upbeat, hard-hitting rock anthem. Lightning-paced percussion is accompanied by dark piano, deep power chords on electric guitar and throbbing bass guitar, all led by Spector’s crisp, emotive vocals that soar above the rest of the instrumentation.
The energy continues to swell in “Fine Right Here” but there is less of an angry, aggressive edge in the follow up track. Vocal harmonies and guitar solos pepper the tune, as well as a catchy drum solo that grabs the listener’s attention immediately before plunging back into a full-fledged soundscape. Next, “Guts” employs a non-traditional melody and chord combinations that exhibit Spector’s talent in making interesting musical choices without sacrificing quality.
“Not Gonna Be” is a two-and-a-half-minute long jaunt through full throttled emotion and unfettered dynamic energy. Drums, guitars and vocals coexist in a bright flash of harmonious sound, somehow raising the album’s volume bar to a new high yet again. Following, “When the Highway Ends” is much more relaxed, a piano-led ballad that gradually incorporates the rest of the band’s instruments as it ebbs and flows throughout the entire track.
The album comes to an end with “Familiar Disaster” arguably the most memorable song on the entire record. Polished electric guitar riffs, pulsing bass guitar and steady drums lay down the foundation upon which Spector’s layered vocals shine in the upbeat, catchy tune. As a whole, Departed Qualities highlights Emily Spector’s ability to write moving lyrics, to record structured rock music with personality and most importantly to engage the listener in her performances.
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