Album review by KevW
Is it really three years since Gold-Bears released their debut album 'Are You Falling In Love?'? Perhaps it seems much more recent because we still haven't quite regained our breath from its effervescent, full-throttle indiepop assault, but just as our pulses return to normal, the Atlanta mob are back with second full-length, 'Dalliance', and they still sound like they've taken some C86-inspired guitar-pop and injected a mixture of Red Bull, amphetamines and a little something from Lance Armstrong's medicine cabinet straight into its eyeballs. Any ideas about throwing them in with fey, jangly indie bands is washed away too, as they add an extra layer of grit to their sound here without losing any of that melody. Perhaps this is to emphasise the fact that many of these songs are about regret and loss.
It's no misery-fest though, as they waste no time in getting first track 'Yeah, Tonight' underway. Before we even get to the 30-second mark we've had the first verse and chorus, but it builds further as it goes on, getting bigger and more rampant as drums crash and guitars fizz. If you think you get a brief respite as we reach the end and expect a short gap and then an intro to the next tune, think again. There is no pause, 'Chest' slams into you right away with some sharp drum beats, seemingly fed on all the nitrous oxide that they could find. The gorgeous, chiming break for some harmonious "ba ba bas" is delightful. You don't even realise that straight after, you're onto third track 'Death With Drums'; no punches are pulled and no prisoners are taken. This is high-octane fuzz-pop that hurtles into your ears like a wall of beautiful noise. Eventually they do give you a brief moment to regain your senses, as 'I Hope They're Right' slows things and allows the feelings that are displayed in these lyrics to take centre stage a little more. With their insistence on doing away with gaps between songs, it does feel like an extension of the track before, and this technique works well. It's a short-lived break, as Gold-Bears then thrash headlong into 'Memo'.
We're not even halfway through and there's already more energy and vitality on display than many bands manage in a career. The absolutely wonderful 'From Tallahassee to Gainesville' is a gloriously tuneful highlight and one of the best songs of its genre so far this year, allowing another slight dip in tempo which works a treat. Similar to this and acting as another standout is the jangly 'Hey, Sophie' which has a touch of The Pains Of Being Pure At Heart to it. 'Punk Song No. 15' doesn't sound like it's going to be a pensive ballad, and of course, it's not. It's punky indiepop that's blasted through so fast you barely have time to take it in. There's no running out of steam or quality tunes. 'For You' is another irresistible slice of sprightly and melodic goodness, and hot on its heals is 'Her Fears' which has a slight twang of '90s alt-rock crossed with vintage Flying Nun records to it. The ending is hardly a slow dance, but 'Fathers And Daughters' does ease you away from such a frenetic record without detracting from it in any way. 'Dalliance' is a totally thrilling ride and one that will leave you wired, joyous, and probably a bit dehydrated. Even if we need to wait another three years for their next set, it won't matter; there's enough fuel contained in these songs to last a long time.
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