Cold Specks second album, Neuroplasticity, by Montreal based Al Spx is a fairly unsatisfying beast. Debut album I Predict A Graceful Explosion was a fascinating debut featuring outstanding tracks such as The Mark, but Neuroplasticity chooses not to propel forward using the momentum of that record; instead it treads water, offering some high points but overall leaving you wanting more.

As I say , there are high points. 'Let Loose The Dogs' is a moody, gothic synth covered track with a killer chorus that perfectly suits Spx unique vocals. Unlike a number of other tracks here, the music allows her plenty of room to breathe and it really is a cracking tune. 'Bodies At Bay' is another standout, driven along on an almost motorik beat and mixed with a sound reminiscent of The National in their Trouble Will Find Me mood. No bad thing at all. The National are a band this album does bring frequently to mind in places, along with Nick Cave and The Bad Seeds. When both bands' are displayed as an obvious influence, the album really catches the ear '(Exit Plan, Bodies At Bay)' but in other places, the album comes across as, well , all a bit samey to be honest.

Overall, the mood of the album is fairly dark. That is of course no bad thing as many truly beautiful albums have a darkness at their core, but crucially in those cases, the darkness leads you towards the light eventually. Some very good tracks aside, 'Neuroplastcity' stays mired in the half light, never really moving anywhere and certainly failing to build on Cold Specks' obvious potential.

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