Release Date: Jun 3, 2014
Record label: Slumberland
Genre(s): Pop/Rock, Alternative/Indie Rock, Indie Rock, Indie Pop
Gold-Bears' 2011 debut, Are You Falling in Love?, was a collection of dazzlingly wordy pop songs, often sparkling with ornate arrangements and group vocals rising up out of its din of fuzzy guitars. Follow-up album Dalliance finds songwriter Jeremy Underwood joined by an almost entirely new cast of Bears to bring to life the 11 more abrasive and in many cases explosive tunes that make up the album. Endlessly melodic and produced with a foggy lo-fi varnish that calls to mind the glorious murk of Black Tambourine, the songs here are mostly quick energetic bursts, often soaked with the bitterness of lost love and rejection.
Dalliance, the second record from Atlanta quintet Gold-Bears, is the sound of a guitar band figuring out how much fun it can be without becoming a bore. Endearing lines about young love and fond memories are parceled with energetic hooks, exuberant cymbal crashes, and singer Jeremy Underwood’s dogged yelp. It’s an immensely present and viscerally enjoyable album, caught in the moment without a second to spare.
Gold-Bears' debut was a catchy, though lightweight, slab of C86 worship, but their sophomore effort tightens and toughens up their sound. The transition is apparent from opener "Yeah Tonight," as the band blast off into hyperdrive, pausing briefly for the dreamy "I Hope You're Right" before once again picking up the pace with "Memo. " Screeching feedback pierces through even the shortest breaks, but it's held at bay by chief songwriter Jeremy Underwood's infectious hooks.
In promoting his new album with Atlanta indie rockers Gold-Bears, frontman Jeremy Underwood released a mix of songs that inspired the album, speaking openly of their influence. “I’m sure I ripped off a chord progression or two,” he wrote, and artists from that mix do indeed hold sway on Dalliance (perhaps most notably The Wedding Present and Superchunk). But another note from Underwood unlocks the secrets of the album far more succinctly: “The past two years have been some of the roughest years of my personal life, and in addition to being sonic influences, these songs were also sonic ameliorations.
Atlanta indie-pop outfit Gold-Bears has gone through a series of line-up changes since 2009, but chief singer, songwriter and bandleader, Jeremy Underwood, is still pushing forward, this time cramming 32 minutes of histrionic pop explosions into Dalliance, the band’s follow up to their 2011 debut, Are You Falling in Love? Live, three and/or four-fifths of Gold-Bears (depending on time and circumstance) is now made up of one of Atlanta’s most exciting acts, Small Reactions. But on this second album, to attain his update on the washed-out vocal duo-action of The Jesus And Mary Chain or labelmates The Pains Of Being Pure At Heart, Underwood has enlisted a few guest vocalists, including Black Tambourine’s Pam Berry (From Tallahassee To Gainesville) and Standard Fare’s Emma Kupa (Yeah, Tonight). The fuzzed-up Chest, with all its speed-pop and nasally vocal upticks, could easily be a cut off a Thermals record.
As a Brit, I feel highly protective over the history of noise-pop. Like many others who grew up in up in the north of England, I was raised to believe that all other musical styles were just passing phases - nothing would ever surpass the aggressive jangle of post-punk guitars (which is the sound of the true faith). So, when an American band start shouting about the fact that they are influenced by The Wedding Present, the hackles start to rise.