Release Date: May 17, 2011
Record label: Slumberland
Genre(s): Pop/Rock, Alternative/Indie Rock, Alternative Pop/Rock, Indie Rock, Indie Pop
More muscular than labelmates the Pains of Being Pure at Heart, Gold-Bears are just as adept at writing sublimely catchy three-minute pop songs. Fuzzy distortion, frantically strummed guitars and melodic bass lines create a sound that's equal parts dreamy and powerful, appropriate for both solo listening sessions and impromptu dance parties. While the songs tend to be short bursts of jangle and noise, that doesn't stop singer Jeremy Underwood from cramming a ton of lyrics into each one.
"Remember that night in 1993? That song made you weep. How could you be so mean, to the boy you longed to meet?" This is the first line of "Besides You", a late-album beauty on Are You Falling in Love?, the debut LP from Atlanta indie poppers Gold-Bears. A little bit emo, a little bit twee, this one lyric is actually striking more for its date-dropping than than its emotional overtones.
Gold-Bears, former Plastic Mastery frontman Jeremy Underwood's new band, are not a million miles away from what he used to do with his previous group -- maybe a little noisier and more intense. Are You Falling in Love? is very wordy, very melodic, and fairly jumps out the speakers and into your heart. Underwood tears through the words like he’s rushing to get them out before he collapses, telling tales of record store love affairs, twisted nostalgia, post-sex contemplation of life’s great mysteries, and general unease and desperation.
Athens, Georgia’s Gold-Bears belong to an older breed of indie rock bands: one that’s more record store than iTunes library, more fanzine than blog, and if we’re talking indie pop, more Black Tambourine and Jesus & Mary Chain than Vampire Weekend and Passion Pit. Hell, the name of their album’s first song is “Record Store”. In fact, it just happens to be the strongest track on their debut album, Are You Falling in Love? It’s a record that turns over few new leaves in the realm of indie rock, but reminds us that rackety guitars, a lo-fi sensibility, and heart-on-sleeve songwriting can do great things when brought together.
In nearly every album made, there are moments of silence. Whether it’s in between the verses or the songs themselves, these little nuggets give the listener time to absorb and process what they’ve just heard. Gold-Bears apparently have no interest in such concepts since their debut, Are You Falling In Love?, doesn’t let up for a second. Constant noise streams through the speakers for all of 33 minutes.