SPRAY – Offerings From The Algorithm

Where logic stops…

One of 2019’s best albums by some distance was Failure Is Inevitable by pop combo Spray (aka Ricardo Autobahn and Jenny McLaren). When The Electricity Club reviewed it, we summed up the album as having a “sense of humour along with a talent for sharp, polished electronic pop.”

The entire album was consistently good, but we reserved particular praise for tracks such as the euphoric ‘We Gotta Get Haircuts’, the wry observations of ‘Anthologised By Cherry Red’ and the topical themes of ‘Get A Load Of This Guy’.

In a previous life, Ricardo Autobahn (synths) and Jenny McLaren (vocals, guitars) were The Cuban Boys, responsible for 1999 smash hit ‘Cognoscenti Vs Intelligentsia‘ (aka ‘The Hamster Dance Song’) that topped John Peel’s Festive 50 and also made an impression on the UK singles charts. Since then, the pair have reinvented themselves as Spray, which kicked off with debut album Living In Neon back in 2002.

Failure Is Inevitable represented their fifth studio album (released on Manchester’s AnalogueTrash label). Their new EP release Offerings From The Algorithm continues the themes of that album with yet more commentary on love and the music industry, including a single remix version of ‘Chump (For My Love)’ (which featured in its original guise on their 2019 album).

Originally, ‘Chump (For My Love)’ was a simpler affair with a stripped-down arrangement driven by acoustic guitar. Here, it’s given a more electronic makeover, although the heart of the song (Jenny McLaren’s withering lyrical narrative) is still front and centre. Killer lines such as “We have to accept you’re too good for me/Or am I too good for you?” lose none of their power here.

The kinetic energy on ‘Everybody Dances (To Digital Music)’ suggests a companion piece to Failure Is Inevitable‘s ‘Astronomical’. It’s cut from a similar boisterous pop template, providing a cathartic workout with some nice synths and guitars in the mix. Elsewhere, ‘One Way Ticket to Hitsville’ offers up more commentary on the ups and downs of the music industry.

Meanwhile, closing track ‘You’ll Never Be Forgiven’ is a tightly wound synth-pop outing which sounds at times like a lost Freezepop composition. Another number packed with snark and pithy commentary (“This is what happens when you do things by committee”), it’s a fine example of Spray’s electro wit in action.

For long-time fans of Spray, there’s little to grumble about here. Certainly people who fell in love with Failure Is Inevitable will find more solid electropop numbers to continue that particular adventure.

Offerings From The Algorithm is out now.