Leave No Trace

Album Review of Leave No Trace by Fool's Gold.

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Leave No Trace

Fool's Gold

Leave No Trace by Fool's Gold

Release Date: Aug 16, 2011
Record label: Iamsound
Genre(s): Pop/Rock, Alternative/Indie Rock, Alternative Pop/Rock, Indie Rock, Worldbeat

63 Music Critic Score
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Leave No Trace - Fairly Good, Based on 13 Critics

The Observer (UK) - 80
Based on rating 4/5
80

When Fool's Gold released their excellent self-titled debut in 2009, the LA band's African-inflected pop risked lumbering the 15-strong collective with the tag of Vampire Weekend copyists, even though frontman Luke Top often sang in Hebrew. Their immensely satisfying second album finds a core of five players toning down the Hebrew, and turning up the early 80s. "The Dive" in particular suggests the Smiths on a west African beach.

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The Guardian - 80
Based on rating 4/5
80

When Fool's Gold released their excellent self-titled debut in 2009, the LA band's African-inflected pop risked lumbering the 15-strong collective with the tag of Vampire Weekend copyists, even though frontman Luke Top often sang in Hebrew. Their immensely satisfying second album finds a core of five players toning down the Hebrew, and turning up the early 80s. "The Dive" in particular suggests the Smiths on a west African beach.

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Filter - 77
Based on rating 77%%
77

The polyglot L.A. collective’s second record builds on the sticky web of trilling guitar and guttural sax that formed the base of their sweaty 2009 debut. Leave No Trace is heavy with electronic squarks and sparkling production that sometimes slows the project down, domesticating the group’s furry stutter-stepping into a well-groomed strut. Still, Fool’s Gold knot their songs up in Lewis Pesacov’s elastic guitar, and when they let it go—as in the closing moments of “Bark & Bite”—everything unwinds into bliss.

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Prefix Magazine - 65
Based on rating 6.5/10
65

Because Fool’s Gold released its self-titled debut in 2009, when the bloom was still on the rose of the Afropop-via-indie-rock moment, the group was lumped in with Vampire Weekend and other trend-chasers. That lumping is unfair, not because Fool’s Gold doesn’t share any similarities with Vampire Weekend, but because Afropop represents only a slice of the band’s global pizza pie. Led by Israeli-Americans Luke Top and Lewis Pesacov, who also plays in Foreign Born, Fool’s Gold play a rambling, elegant hodge-podge of musicals styles out of which you could trace Talking Heads and Orange Juice, as well as African guitar and Latin rhythms.

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Pitchfork - 62
Based on rating 6.2/10
62

We sure got over Afro-pop real fast, right? Jokes aside, even if King Sunny Ade hasn't exactly surpassed Thurston Moore as a dominant post-2007 influence, those spindly leads, clean guitar tones, and assorted hand percussion are more primary colors at this point than elements that automatically set a band apart. They were certainly omnipresent on Fool's Gold's 2009 self-titled debut, but the Los Angeles collective distinguished itself from its peers (including guitarist/songwriter Lewis Pesacov's more straightforward Foreign Born) with a rhythmic verve and a bewitching, enigmatic quality that wasn't entirely attributable to Luke Top singing primarily in Hebrew-- though that played a part. Now there's Leave No Trace, sung almost entirely in English, pointedly more conventional in song structure, and given a bright, crisp, electric sheen that uses its cover art as a guiding sonic principle.

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AllMusic - 60
Based on rating 6/10
60

By the time of their second album, L. A. 's Fool's Gold solidified their lineup from an expansive and somewhat amorphous eight-to-twelve-person collective into a condensed five-member band.

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Consequence of Sound - 58
Based on rating C+
58

According to Los Angeles-based collective Fool’s Gold, “[They] are not an Afrobeat band. [They] play African music.” After their latest release, Leave No Trace, which fluidly incorporates New Wave influences and traditionally popular song structures, that designation might do Fool’s Gold a disservice. With their 2009 self-titled debut, the band established themselves as authentically African compared to other Afrobeat-inspired bands, with Malian polyrhythms and instruments like Egyptian tambourines and Djembe drums.

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PopMatters - 50
Based on rating 5/10
50

Yet another album where merely pointing out shortcomings feels like drowning a bag of kittens. Ah, well—it’s not like there are a lot of flaws on the second album by this cross-cultural L.A. duo-with-other-guys—more like not-quite-enoughs. Fool’s Gold’s self-titled 2009 debut wasn’t re-writing the map in clear-toned American Afro-pop.

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No Ripcord - 50
Based on rating 5/10
50

Afro-pop steeped in Jewish sensibilities - that’s probably about the easiest way to summarise the highly distinctive aesthetic of the LA based Fool’s Gold – but, in all frankness, we may indulge ourselves with the thought that such a label may represent their death knells when presented amidst the modern swirlings of indie-pop. One might suggest that the likes Vampire Weekend have cultivated a luscious and fertile breeding ground in the popular consciousness for just such a band to flourish; however, the overriding feeling is that they inadvertently salted that earth and pissed in the water supply. My own pre-conceived pities aside, Fool’s Gold are certainly not seeking out the limelight; instead, they’ve worked to produce two quality records since their birth four years ago, consisting of songs blessed with an engrossing richness and depth.

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NOW Magazine - 40
Based on rating 2/5
40

The self-titled 2009 debut by Los Angeles's Fool's Gold was an improbably successful distillation of African and Western pop with vocals delivered mostly in Hebrew. It sounded both familiar and alien and was an intriguing riff on ideas about otherness and cultural appropriation. If only they hadn't decided to discard so much of what originally made them interesting for this follow-up recording.

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Austin Chronicle
Their review was positive

The eponymous 2009 debut from Fool's Gold approached Afro-pop and Caribbean funk with a collective zeal, crafting a Third World dance party in a California basement. Refined into a quintet after two years of touring, the band broadens its appeal on Leave No Trace, threading the needle between the Sahara and the synth-heavy romanticism of 1980s New Wave. Joyous opener "The Dive" ensures smooth transition, bolstered tremendously by Israel-born bassist/songwriter Luke Top's shift from Hebrew to English (exception being the enchanting "Tel Aviv").

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The Quietus
Their review was generally favourable

There’s a scene in an early episode of the American TV comedy 30 Rock where Alec Baldwin’s big boss character is showing a newcomer around, making introductions and offering up brief, need-to-know snippets of information about the show’s cast and crew. He stops at James 'Toofer' Spulock, a proud African American college graduate and confides: “We call him Toofer because with him you get a two-for-one; you get a black guy and a Harvard guy.” Whether or not they would be happy with such a throwaway, dismissive summation, listening to the 2009 eponymous debut from L.A. band Fool’s Gold always made me think of that quote.

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CMJ
Their review was generally favourable

If Robert Smith, the Cure’s lead singer, wrote songs from his happy place, the result might sound something like L.A.-based Fool’s Gold’s sophomore album, Leave No Trace: outwardly sunny guitar licks, the occasional detour into instrumental segments, a noticeable synth presence and that deep-but-nasal quality of Smith’s vocals. But Smith’s happy music would lack that which fuels so much of Fool’s Gold’s sound and personality: the global span of its influences, from African drum music to L.A. indie rock to a whole resumé of international genres on which co-frontman Lewis Pesacov studied and was raised.

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