[Reviewed by Peter Marks]
Dean Garcia does not know the meaning of the word stop. Over the last nine years he has thrown himself into a myriad of projects of which SPC ECO is the most endearing as it’s primarily composed of himself and his daughter Rose Berlin; her vocals are breathy and vulnerable, the type he works so well with. In the years since their debut her voice has become grittier and the words she writes give you a sense of life not being too particularly kind. Of course, having someone like Dean penning the music certainly doesn’t hurt. He’s been composing devilishly catchy tunes for many a moon. I know what everyone wants out of him but it’s done.
Originally this album came out under a different name but Dean and Rose decided to re-release it as SPC ECO. The reasoning for this is something they alone know but who is going to complain when the results are this goddamn awesome, seriously this is some hook driven (yes driven, not laden) bliss. You know when you’ve gotten high enough that the world just becomes a distant hum? Or when you’re so done with everything and everyone around you that you just go home and hide? These pieces are the soundtrack to those times, Rose doesn’t have much reassurance for us and Dean’s arrangements are enough to turn anyone into a diabetic; they’re that sugary, they’re that nerve jangling and they’re that slick. No, his bass is not on prominent here and there aren’t any of the ubiquitous guitars people seem to think he can’t function without.
To think this is the same guy who terrorized my ears with his ‘Dementia’ albums blows my mind. Is there no limit to what you can come up with, Mr. Garcia!? It’s a foregone conclusion that this album is strictly for after-hours when no one else is around and the cities take on an eerily serene look, you know the one. Empty freeway interchanges and lonely off ramps are just the jumping off point, spend enough time with ‘The Art of Pop’ and you’ll begin to see exactly what they mean by it. This is the voice, these are the beats, over there is the keyboard and behind the mixing desk is the wizard; I have no doubt they had a blast making this one. Beneath the dour and dismissive veneer of Rose’s lyrics there is a sense of hope and a need to believe, she’s right up next to me telling her tales. “I just don’t give a fuck, I don’t care enough” is a brave stance to take. A few more years at this and there will be no doubts.
These combinations of sight and sound are their domain, pretty much exclusively at this point. For a father/daughter team to have come up with this, wow, who knew. Just who the hell knew. A pop record with enough atmosphere to blot out the sun, there are so many melodies cascading throughout that they begin to just fall over one another and accomplish what Dean Garcia has always been out to deliver: a cacophonous symphony forged in noise which originates inside his head and comes out fully formed. Go listen to “Ray of Sun” and try telling me otherwise.