Los Angeles based electronic duo Spike Hellis comprises of Cortland Gibson and Lainey, who got their start on Halloween of 2019. They self-released their first full-length, self-titled album in April 2022, under their imprint Over-Pop.
The album chaotically shifts pace back and forth; the songs running into one another with no time in-between. The record opens with "Control (Rage)", a layered, firm-handshake body-music track designed to hijack the amygdala. The kick drum resembles the steady flash of a panic button. You press it, but nothing happens—no relief. The irregular placement of snare matches Chang’s cries of dysregulation, spiraling red-eyed after having lost command asking, “Will I regain control?” While presented as a song of despair, optimism and determination shine through in the final line as the question is taken back and turned into a statement, “Watch me regain control”. This is a theme that permeates throughout the album: Taking challenging times of despair and coming through the other end with hope and optimism. Spike Hellis (S/T) was made with the intention to feel jolting. Techno-tinged "Flight" is an SH-101 track wherein lyrical instructions for escaping a dream are chanted over the iconic rubber band sound, with the claps paying homage to Charlie's "Spacer Woman". "Slices" is the funky first single which leads into its supplementary counterpart, "Stitches". Footsteps grow louder until it opens into a dark waltz. Samples of William S. Burroughs cackling ring out over Emulator arpeggios until we arrive at "Teardrops (Kisses)". While it is perhaps the most light-hearted track on the album sonically, themes of social punishment and isolation push through the surface to reveal conflict at its core. Chang and Gibson trade off cries of shame and humiliation while distorted synths, swirling in polyrhythms, close out Side A.
Side B continues with the song "Help"—a straight-forward, freestyle number with a pinch of synth-pop. The disjointed "Cause of Death" may be the most challenging song on the record. Floating between major and minor scales and heavy handed sampling, this track takes Spike Hellis from the dance floor to the speedway. Lacing each verse with the line “I never rush, but I like to speed”, a nod to taking risks and enduring hardships in favor of triumph in the long run. Arguably the biggest cut from the record is the closing track "Mouth". This minimal track winds it’s way through a four-verse build. Chang’s pitch-shifted voice softly narrates a catch-and-release scenario in which baiting fish is used as an allegory for manipulation. “Baby look at you, setting your hook in my mouth - Reel me in, rip it out”.
Since finishing the album, Spike Hellis has hit the road hard with zero hesitation—completing two full US tours and a handful of smaller runs within the span of one year. They've performed in good company with fellow artists and friends such as ADULT., Kontravoid, Choir Boy, Soft Kill, Portrayal of Guilt, Plack Blague, Pixel Grip, Twin Tribes and many others. They have also been invited to play at festivals including Cold Waves, Substance, Sanctum, Sound and Fury, Verboden and Vampire’s Ball.
Blasting their bleak outlook and spreading their gospel of disenchantment and sarcasm, Spike Hellis announces their arrival.