Nine Mile Records

Click to hear: “What You’re Feeling

Spouse has always been a smart band, but Confidence, their fifth album, is brilliant.

The indie-rock collective — whose members live in Portland and Northampton, Mass. — is led by singer and guitarist José Ayerve (currently of Portland). They developed the songs on Confidence during a nine-week residency at a Northampton club last summer. Ayerve recorded and mixed the album, and the band collectively produced it. It hits stores May 18.

There’s serious craftsmanship in this material — rich, dense layers of vocals and instrumentation; lots of cool details — but also humor, sadness, and moments of disarming honesty.

“No Sudden Moves” is a taut dance-rocker with shimmering and scraping guitars and a bass line that enters your bloodstream. Drummer JJ O’Connell grabs your attention on this track and several others on Confidence, like the sunny pop song “Impressed By You.” His playing is crisp and precise, but also aggressive, recorded and mixed close enough to convey exactly how hard he hits the kit (really fuckin’ hard).

“What You’re Feeling” has an infectious synth hook half-jacked from The Cars’ “Shake It Up.” It’s the catchiest song on the album. “Vampire Love Song” rumbles in and rocks out gloriously. The heartbroken yet hopeful “Grand Motif” glides along in gorgeous fashion straight into your subconscious. You’ll be hearing it in your head for weeks.

“Keep Being You” is a hilarious shot at a cocky rock-star boyfriend back from tour. “So welcome home, don’t take your shoes off,” Ayerve sings, “Go take the shovel, and clear the driveway / And take the garbage and the recycling / Out to the curbside, and bring in the mail / And clean the kitchen …” you get the idea.

“Underwater,” a duet with Anne Pinkerton, recalls Ayerve’s excellent (and overlooked) 2008 album, The Nuclear Waste Management Club — a countrified side project that had Pinkerton and other Spouse contributors all over it.

On “09.19.05,” Ayerve takes a big chance as a songwriter, detailing the day he learned his father had been murdered by street thieves in South America. It’s a challenging song to listen to, and Ayerve deserves credit for putting it out there.

Confidence is dedicated to Miguel Ayerve and others close to the band who passed away during its conception. It’s hard to imagine a more inspired or inspiring tribute.

— Chris Busby

For more on Spouse, visit spousemusic.com.