Springtime Carnivore’s story is an eccentric one. If you look at Springtime Carnivore’s Facebook page, you’ll see a description that says in a past life Springtime Carnivore died in a gun fight with Annie Oakley. It also describes that Springtime Carnivore joined the circus as a tightrope walker. A fibula-breaking accident ended her career, but in the aftermath she reawakened her dormant love of playing the piano and thus the end result is her debut self-titled album out on Autumn Tone records. But who is behind Springtime Carnivore?
For an adolescent, music tastes can change at the flip of a coin. My music tastes evolved over the course of middle and high school, from listening to the country-era Taylor Swift and emo-ish Paramore to listening to indie staples like The National and Animal Collective. In the midst of this music evolution there was one artist whose music had never gone stale to me. That was Greta Morgan.
Born Greta Salpeter, the Oak Brook, Illinois native become a part of the Chicago band The Hush Sound in 2004 at the age of 16. They caught the attention Panic! At the Disco’s Ryan Ross and were then signed to Pete Wentz’s record label where they rereleased their debut album ‘So Sudden’ and two albums following that. They spent the next few years touring with bands like Panic! At the Disco and One Republic, but after releasing their 2008 album ‘Goodbye Blues’, the band went on hiatus. After that Morgan did some soul searching and lived in Los Angeles, where she started working on what was supposed to be her solo debut. She changed her name from Salpeter to her middle name Morgan, and she named her new project Gold Motel. That later turned into a band collaboration, and they released two full length albums, in 2010 and 2012. The band had tight, poppy, California-sounding music that really showed Morgan’s progression in songwriting. Morgan still didn’t feel like she was completely being herself though, and thus began Springtime Carnivore.
Morgan made Springtime Carnivore’s Facebook page, where she started posting new music, and she made no claims to her connections in The Hush Sound and Gold Motel. Morgan wanted to see if she truly still had any talent in writing music on her own. I think it is now clear with the release of her full length album, that she still has stories to tell and room to grow in her career.
Relating to Gold Motel, Springtime Carnivore has a nostalgic ‘60s pop sound, but the songs aren’t as clear and tight as Gold Motel’s. Morgan sings confidently about the ups and downs of love, without clichés. Morgan is that wise, relaxed friend that you want to join on a cross country road trip, the seductive pillow talker that you would never take for granted. She may sing of strange haunting moments at times, but the album is one that cannot help but make you feel good.
There’s a lot more production on this than Morgan’s previous work. In particular Morgan uses distortion on her voice on some songs, and there is a wide sonic palette, which is impressive but begs the question of whether Morgan’s message still comes through clearly. The album goes into psychy, less structured moments, which I tend to enjoy the most. That being said Morgan still has a knack for writing catchy pop songs, and she had the help of Richard Swift from The Shins, who has also produced other classic sounding acts like Foxygen, to produce tracks like “Sun Went Black”, a harder, pulsating track with a glimmering sheen.
I’ve always been a sucker for Morgan’s sadder more subdued tunes, which is something she hasn’t done much since The Hush Sound. There is one track on this album that lets us see a vulnerable and not concealed Morgan on “Other Side of the Boundary”. Her voice shines and echoes with acoustic guitar underneath. I’d pay big money to get a whole album of Morgan singing bittersweet slow acoustic songs.
Do I regard this album as being the most consistent best work that Morgan has done? No, but it should be taken into account that this is the first album that has no other band member to blame but herself. Morgan can still write a better pop song than anyone on the top 40 charts, and she’s only 26 years old. This album shows Morgan stretching her sonic palette further in the styles and production of the record. Morgan may be hiding behind cool effects instead of showing her best songwriting abilities, but I think from listening to the six total albums she’s released in her career, Morgan has plenty of good music to come.
Final Verdict: 7/10