Before you read this, or even listen to this album, it’s probably best you read the note from its creator on the Space Boyfriend website. Although the album and its meaning stand perfectly on their own without it, it clearly comes from a special place in someone’s life and the thoughts behind it carry a lot of weight because of it.
I’ve actually been meaning to talk about Bug Spray for a while but opted to hold out on doing so for the release of Never Give Up. I figured it might be more worthwhile to contrast the two against each other but now that I’m sitting here writing this… I’m not sure there’s much merit in that. Never Give Up is a revised version of Bug Spray, but it stands far apart in terms of tone and quality from its origin. There’s some reworked/new addition in every existing track, be it vocals or instrumentation, in tandem with new tracks altogether.
I’m actually finding it rather hard to find words to describe how I feel about individual tracks. It’s so intrinsically personal that I feel strange exacting my own feelings or opinions into them. There is a very obvious story being told throughout Never Give Up but despite relating to so many parts of it, it’s not mine. My listening habits always involve some form of diving into the mood and atmosphere being presented to me but there’s this barrier in Never Give Up that prevents me from doing it.
And I love it for it. Instead of trying to engage with it, I saw it unfold in front of me and it let every emotion and thought expressed to shine exactly as it was intended to. Be it the lightheartedly adorable kazoos of”watermelon party” or the high-pitched anger of “shadow aspect”, it struck me more than it could have ever possibly done so if I had any role in it.
But the barrier it presented to me didn’t stop me from connecting with it. Jami’s vocals aren’t the highest and brightest in the medium but you’d be hard-pressed to find someone else putting as much heart into their singing. Every break in his pitch, every skip in his rhythm, and every breath missed is entirely from the heart and it makes so many of the album’s moments hit so much harder. I’m typing this as “shadow aspect” is playing and I’m already inadvertently smashing my keyboard’s keys far harder than I ever should.
And while I shouldn’t compare it to the original, I love Never Give Up for actually having an end. The lead of “always give up” into “bug spray (reprise)” on the original felt so abrupt and jarring to me. It ended in a mild recovery from absolute melancholy and while that was affecting in itself, ostensibly telling of the artist’s mind at the time, it never felt like the conclusion the album—better yet, the story—needed.
Never Give Up now concludes with “take care of me” (part 1 and 2) and “someday my prince will come”. A mostly-instrumental, upbeat chiptune track, “someday my prince will come” feels completely separate from the rest of Never Give Up but has a trot that was familiar to me after going through the album. It feels like a reflection on the album and story, which then leads into the quieter and uplifting “bug spray (reprise)”.
But that’s just my take on it. And I press that because really, I might be completely off-base from what Never Give Up was meant to convey. I’m starting to feel unsure because there are a lot of parts that hit home with me personally and it makes me skew towards my own thoughts. I gave it my first listen at work the other day and I had to stop for a bit because I was bordering tears at the end of “starry sea” and just… fuck.
Just listen to it. Please. Bug Spray (Never Give Up) might not be the most intricately produced, powerhouse beat-filled album you’ll hear but I can’t even process the thought of an album being so unfathomably descriptive of a person’s personality and heart.
Link to Space Boyfriend’s Bandcamp, where you can listen to Bug Spray (Never Give Up) and purchase it.