The history of New England band Spouse dates to 1995. Since then, the band has released singles, an EP and five full-length albums. Its latest, “Confidence,” is its first on Nine Mile Records.

Spouse has gone through its share of lineup changes, but has always been anchored by singer/guitarist Jos?yerve and his distinctively raspy voice.

“Confidence” begins with the snappy “No Sudden Moves,” well appointed by JJ O’Connell’s drums. “What you’re Feeling” has a clever stick-to-the-ribs quality that’s made for singing along, especially on the refrain, “All of you want to feel what you’re feeling.”

“Impressed by You,” one of my favorites, is another signature Spouse song — brainy, catchy and with a great hook. The song “59,” which Ayerve sings in Spanish, is another prize with brushed drum strokes and guest vocals from Anne Pinkerton.

Sarcasm-soaked frustration reigns supreme on “Keep Being You,” as Ayerve takes aim at a too-big-for-their-britches rock star who has just gotten off tour and has forgotten how to be human: “So welcome home, don’t take your shoes off/ Go take the shovel and clear the driveway/ And take the garbage and the recycling out to the curbside, and bring in the mail.”

Ayerve duets with Erin McKeown on “Underwater,” the gold star of “Confidence.” With electric guitar, cymbals, piano and bass all in exquisitely measured doses, McKeown and Ayerve make their way through an emotionally fierce account of meeting in the middle.

“Confidence” takes a chilling yet truly poignant turn with “09.19.05.” This is the day Ayerve’s father, Miguel, was shot and killed by robbers in South America: “My mother tried to scream/ She fell with you down to the ground/ Gunman road off with the man on motorbike/ Someone call for help; don’t hide behind your lavish blinds/ If we fail to lift a finger, we all suffer crime.”

The album closes with “Success,” a seven-minute requiem of honest self-examination with Pinkerton again lending her vocals along with Mark Mulcahy. Peyton Pinkerton, another friend to Spouse, adds incredible orchestration to the song that is a musically lush and lyrically introspective ending to a striking, memorable and quite frankly, outstanding record.

 

Aimsel Ponti is a Portland freelance writer. Contact her at:

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