Premiere: The Seduction of SPAER’s Sonically Expansive “Critter” ft. Izzy Howard

SPAER © Victoria Kanaris
SPAER’s “Critter” (ft. Izzy Howard) pushes the pendulum of music forward through a dynamic combination of familiar melodies, diverse instrumentation and experimental production.

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If so-called experimental, progressive artists like Glass Animals, Radiohead and Kanye West have taught us anything over the past two decades, it’s that our definition of “popular music” is ever-expanding; it knows no bounds. SPAER’s new single “Critter” (ft. Izzy Howard) pushes the pendulum of music forward through a dynamic combination of familiar melodies, diverse instrumentation and experimental production.

Onto the next one
So you know where I’m coming from
Got me feeling low
So I think I’ll find another one
Another one
Listen: “Critter” – SPAER ft. Izzy Howard


Atwood Magazine is proud to be premiering “Critter,” the latest single off SPAER’s forthcoming full length debut album Vol. 1 (out April 13, 2018 via Axis Mundi Records). The side project of (Atwood Magazine favorite) Psymon Spine co-founder Peter Spears, SPAER is a dazzling experimental psych-pop indulgence that will challenge and excite the ears. Just like Psymon Spine’s groundbreaking 2017 album, SPAER’s music transforms everyday sound into dramatic, entrancing music, expanding what music can be using production techniques that have been around for nearly a half-century, but have yet to truly break into mainstream consumption.

Vol. 1 - SPAER

Vol. 1 – SPAER

“Critter” features vocalist Izzy Howard (Facebook), whose independently-released debut EP Fine by Me offers a fabulous mix of sweet soul and vulnerable, stripped songwriting. Her delivery is intense as she sings over SPAER’s sonic swells, a dramatic pool of unfamiliar instrumentation that feels strangely familiar and alien at the same time.

Perhaps it’s the discomfort of not knowing the sounds surrounding her that informs her performance; or perhaps it’s the sheer intimacy of Howard’s lyrics, a turbulent back-and-forth between temptation, desire, and aversion. One cannot help but feel hypnotized by Izzy Howard as she professes:

Red lips that shine in your eyes
I don’t want you in my sight
At this point I’d rather just fight
Oh baby we’re crossing them lines
Making me lose my mind
It’s too hard to find
Hot days feel the haze
Tears flow down your face
Sweat dripping down your skin
Honey you will never win
Got me wasting my time
Ain’t even that fine
You’re like tar in my lungs
With these feelings im done
Please just let me be
My body and my mind feeling free
Feeling free
SPAER © Richard Ross

SPAER © Richard Ross

“‘Critter’ samples iPhone recordings taken by SPAER while participating in a group sound experiment conducted during a Critter & Guitari workshop,” Peter Spears explains. “Because of the samples’ origins and SPAER’s visual association of scuttling rodents, the song practically named itself. Izzy Howard’s original lyrics and melody were inspired by the power she felt through realizing her autonomy.”

There you have it: “Critter” is both a collaboration and a reaction to itself, a thing of beauty and magnetism, self-empowerment and independence. It’s an emotional cacophony that demands self-control and temperance, which is in so many ways reflected in the song – the creation of melody through the manipulation of sound clippings is a perfect example of us taking control of our environment.

Onto the next one
So you know where I’m coming from
Got me feeling low
So I think I’ll find another one
When you said you would
I thought you meant it
My hearts expensive it,
can’t afford to mend it
This cigarette is going down
I never thought the ember would go out
Go out

Still, “Critter” is a little creepy. It’s unsettling in all the right ways, a seductive piece whose sonic architecture and musical sculpture hypnotizes our ears and stirs our minds. Like its founder’s other projects, SPAER demands more from listeners, and more from itself.

Stream “Critter” exclusively on Atwood Magazine, and look out for SPAER’s forthcoming album Vol. 1, out 4/13/2018! This is one artist you definitely want to keep a close eye on…

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:: stream/purchase “Critter” here ::

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Vol. 1 - SPAER

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📸 © Victoria Kanaris

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Mitch is the Editor-in-Chief of Atwood Magazine and a 2014 graduate from Tufts University, where he pursued his passions of music and psychology. He currently works at Universal Music Group in New York City. In his off hours, Mitch may be found songwriting, wandering about one of New York's many neighborhoods, or writing an article on your next favorite artist for Atwood. Mitch's words of wisdom to fellow musicians and music lovers are thus: Keep your eyes open and never stop exploring. No matter where you go, what you do or who you are with, you can always learn something new and inspire something amazing. Say hi here: mitch[at]atwoodmagazine[dot]com