Label: Captured Tracks Release Date: 29/03/11 Link: Official Site Justin Paul Vallesteros, aka Craft Spells, stated that a typical Craft Spells track centred around ‘First World problems’ with ‘a little bit of romance thrown in’. I’ll let you decide how far Vallesteros goes into confronting the endemic issues of the First World, however there is no doubting the veins of synth laced romance that run through Craft Spells’ fantastic debut album, Idle Labour. ‘For the Ages’ opens the record with a haunting resonance, as chimes are scattered amongst waves of reverb that float Vallesteros’ beautifully lo-fi vocals. After this brief beginning, ‘Scandinavian Crush’ bounces into life with driven percussion and catchy riffs galore, which, coupled again with Vallesteros’ hypnotic vocals, officially makes melancholy cool to dance to. ‘The Fog Rose High’ slows the tempo and further distorts the already mysteriously distant vocals. In many ways it will be Vallesteros’ vocals that decide whether many listeners will enjoy this album. ‘Fog Rose High’ indulges in the template of blissful melodies that are insatiable to listen to, however some may grow weary of vocals that, to some, may sound simply like a slightly more defined synth. I, however, do not subscribe to this school of thought, and ‘From The Morning Heat’ demonstrates clearly why I don’t. Two days of sun recently fooled the British public into believing summer had arrived early, and I, as one of those fools, listened to this album while out in the park. ‘From The Morning’ captures all that is wonderful about joyful pop while injecting it with a sense of urgency and complexity that not only emphasises the optimism of a sunny day, but also actively engages you as a listener. The nature of tempo, while staying somewhat steady and equal, is made to feel tumultuous throughout the record. This is achieved by an expert manipulation of percussion and surrounding synths, with the more romantic tracks propelling Vallesteros’ vocals to the forefront, as is the case in ‘After the Moment’. Approaching the latter half of the record, the sound of a tinny church organ is instantly identifiable in ‘Ramona’. Recapturing the haunting resonance that the album began with, ‘Ramona’ makes one realise the care taken in tempering the blissful sounds with the slightly darker and surreal, which adds a considerable level of character, and intrigue, to the album as a whole. ‘Given the Time’ only goes to further this dynamic, standing as the darkest track on the record while still managing to employ what now feel like transcendental bursts of synth. By the time one reaches ‘Your Tomb’ and ‘You Should Close the Door’, the record begins to feel as if it is outlasting it’s means. This isn’t to suggest these tracks are not as good as those that preceded them; rather the rhetoric that initially powered the record starts to feel slightly mundane. However this stands as the only slight against what is an excellent debut album, which concludes with one of the strongest tracks on the record, ‘Beauty Above All’; a track that captures the surreal, and splendid, infusion of dreamy synths and beautiful vocals that should be the soundtrack of your summer. Photobucket