For a band who’s sound practically oozes synth-heavy summery charm, Craft Spells came from some pretty gloomy beginnings. The group hails from Stockton, California, a town which recently topped Forbes’ “America's Most Miserable Cities” list… for the second time in three years. The season was winter, the mood was depressed, and Justin Vallesteros was dealing with the downer trifecta of living with his parents, getting over a relationship breakup, and working in a “dead-end job photo-shopping the acne out of high-school glamour shots”.
Working alone in his bedroom, songs sprang to life as rough demos. Bloggers caught wind, and within months Vallesteros had signed a deal with Brooklyn label Captured Tracks. The label, also home to like-minded rockers Beach Fossils, released his debut long-player Idle Labor back in March.
Wearing its influences as much as its heart on its sleeve, Idle Labor pays homage to Factory bands like New Order. The record, recorded solely by Vallesteros in his bedroom, is drenched in a youthful optimism and coated in tropical sheen. Overtly dramatic and melancholic in parts, the focus is romantic love.
Having recently ditched Stockton for musically fertile Seattle, Vallesteros has put together a live band and embarked on his first series of tours in the US and overseas. Intentionally leaving the synths behind for a rockier feel, Craft Spells, whatever their sound, remains vital. When it comes to romance we can all relate. After all, bittersweet, lovelorn anthems are always in style.