When their EP, You’re So Quiet, came out awhile back, you wouldn’t have been off to declare Hollywood Gossip one of Austin’s best twee bands. They sounded sunny with trademark jangling guitars cutting back and forth across the short collection. But, a year and a half later, they’ve matured on Dear as Diamonds, albeit in their very own style. It looks like Austinites can now rejoice, as we finally have a quality band to fill the void left by the recent break-up of Voxtrot.
“Sleepwalkin” begins the album in a similar place that we last found the group, but the slight changes, such as letting the guitars ring for just a bit longer, give the song a little bit more warmth. What used to be covered in witty lyrics and crisp guitars has now evolved into a full sound, moved forward by a rambunctious closing moment featuring exuberant shouts from singer Tyler Womack. It’s these closing moments, and time changes mid-song, such as in the various spots on “Summer Haze” that point towards a band who’ve grown quite a bit.
“Turn It Up” is definitely one of the many feel good songs you’ll find on Dear as Diamonds, and this is the first time you’ll notice some changes in the vocals of Womack. In the past you might have found hints of groups like The Smiths, but on this track you can definitely hear a bit of Hutch from The Thermals; you should really dig this song. This track offers a grittier guitar as well, which is just another show of the progress the band has made. But, don’t think that their catchy jangle-pop days are completely gone. “Narcissus in a Window” uses a bubbling bass line for a backbone courtesy of Cory Ryan, and starts with that jangle we’ve come to associate with Hollywood Gossip. Mid-song, they change it up, stripping away that jangle for a heavier guitar tone. One of the many things that makes this track great, along with others here, is that instead of stopping short, as many of the tracks from their EP did, they continue to grow the song a bit, fleshing out all the details. It’s hard to skip ahead when all this goodness hides in wait.
Yet another change that is sure to win over many new fans is the element of softly strummed guitar. First, you have the short ditty “Out of My Depth,” which has Tyler questioning himself over that lightly played guitar. Short and sweet, to the point, and enjoyable all the same. Closer “All That I Want” also utilizes a similar style for the greater part of the song, illustrating the strengths of Womack’s voice. Once again, the band pushes the song into new areas they haven’t visited before, at least not on recorded material, when they hit the 3 minute mark (roughly). The rest of the group joins, and a guitar solo swings in to provide a different dynamic altogether. Ryan joins in on the fun in the end, carrying us out on a high point.
Hollywood Gossip really hit the high-water mark with Dear as Diamonds. In drawing from their pasts whilst pushing forward, they wrote a collection of songs so enjoyable that not a one of them should be skipped over. The past gave me fuzzy feelings listening to the group, but now I’m sure that I’m in love with this band. You should be too![audio:http://austintownhall.com/wp-content/uploads/2010/06/05-Narcissus-In-A-Window.mp3]
Download: Hollywood Gossip – Narcissus in a Window [MP3]