Gold-Bears Dalliance
  • TUESDAY, JUNE 03, 2014

  • Posted by: Peter Dolan

After listening, it's clear why Gold-Bears titled their sophomore album Dalliance — it nevertheless doesn't sound like one. On the contrary, it's heartfelt. The Atlanta punk outfit have an earnestness to them, a gratifying lo-fi cheer that keeps catchy, even when they're getting moody and vindictive, in the way that a band named after Haribo candy and self-described as 'crash pop' probably should. Every number reels with jumpy, buzzing guitar, relentless percussion, humming with an excitability Gold-Bears seem unable to abstain from (even where it doesn't fit.)

Dalliance is transportive. It makes me nostalgic for the late 90s in a way I shouldn't be because at the end of 1999 I was six. The synaesthetics of this album are basement shows, laughter under streetlights, aimless crawls through suburbs in your dad's old Volvo. All things that probably weren't as I imagine them. Things I would surely misremember if I'd experienced them in the first place. And there's something of that misremembering in Dalliance as well.

Looking back to their first album for a comparison will sting a little (or maybe a lot if you're Gold-Bears.) The story arc is woundingly clear-cut, the question posed by 2010's Are You Falling in Love? answered curtly by its follow-up. It's an album that deals in bitterness, down to its title, which seems to be a retrospective ruling on the collapsed relationship at the album's center. The sound as a whole is a little too uniform — every track jangles, sometimes uncomfortably, as on the ought-to-be-morose "I Hope They're Right." The more unremarkable songs bleed together. And the band's energy can get the better of them — sometimes strained vocals often are overwhelmed by the wall of noise. But the lyrics that do crest into audibility are a tangle. The speaker perpetually toes the lines between blaming his ex and blaming himself. On "Death with Drums": "She compensates, she compensates for everything / except for all those lies." And on "I Hope They're Right": "Because no one can be blamed beside myself." And on "Hey, Sophie": "For better or worse / This is life."

Looking back on a failed love as Dalliance does means the opportunity to remember selectively — to demonize or apologize. Trying to healthily balance the urge to cut a person up with the urge to blame yourself. Left-over tenderness suffused with resentment. It's all there in Dalliance, wearing a sonic grin that invites you to come and share in the joyful misery.

You can catch the album now, available on iTunes, and you can listen to the band's single "For You" below.



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