11 Songs, 36 Minutes

EDITORS’ NOTES

Craft Spells started as a one-man effort in California, then blossomed into a full band in Seattle after a few singles and an EP. This full-length debut by Justin Paul Vallesteros and his band oozes an inarguably ‘80s-tinted warmth and sweetness; at times it feels like a hug in earbuds. Vallesteros knows how to craft a strong melody, and the ringing guitars entwined with the artist’s yearning vocals make a formidable pair. Idle Labor offers moments that evoke everyone from The Smiths (“The Fog Rose High”) to Orange Juice (“Your Tomb”) and even early New Order (“You Should Close the Door”). An early single, “Party Talk,” is a glistening gem, with a crisp dance beat set to joyous, underplayed guitar licks, ghostly vocals, and touches like a vaporous theremin and a shimmering triangle lending the song a delicate, ephemeral feel. Craft Spells have done their homework well. As a thesis, Idle Labor merits an “A” for historical comprehension, with lavish bonus points for originality and contemporary interpretation.

EDITORS’ NOTES

Craft Spells started as a one-man effort in California, then blossomed into a full band in Seattle after a few singles and an EP. This full-length debut by Justin Paul Vallesteros and his band oozes an inarguably ‘80s-tinted warmth and sweetness; at times it feels like a hug in earbuds. Vallesteros knows how to craft a strong melody, and the ringing guitars entwined with the artist’s yearning vocals make a formidable pair. Idle Labor offers moments that evoke everyone from The Smiths (“The Fog Rose High”) to Orange Juice (“Your Tomb”) and even early New Order (“You Should Close the Door”). An early single, “Party Talk,” is a glistening gem, with a crisp dance beat set to joyous, underplayed guitar licks, ghostly vocals, and touches like a vaporous theremin and a shimmering triangle lending the song a delicate, ephemeral feel. Craft Spells have done their homework well. As a thesis, Idle Labor merits an “A” for historical comprehension, with lavish bonus points for originality and contemporary interpretation.

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