Gold Bears – Dalliance
When I first received Dalliance in the mail I had to go back and listen to the debut, Are You Falling in Love. It reminded me of just how great the songwriting was, though I felt the first LP was a bit uneven in spots. On the return for Gold Bears, this is not the case; the songs here are successful in every single way, with not a single throw away of the eleven tracks present.
Dalliance opens where Are You Falling in Love left off, starting things with “Yeah Tonight,” but this round you’ve got an immediate winner. The idea has been shortened, pounding away from the instant you press play. It doesn’t hurt that singer Jeremy Underwood is balanced out here by Emma Kupa (formerly of Standard Fare), as her presence provides a nice sugary dosage to a track noisily rocks from the get-go. Screeching guitars await around the bend with “Chest.” It’s reminiscent of The Thermals at their best, offering up punk intensity with hints of pop sensibility that make the song an undeniable hit; you’ll want to blast this with the windows down.
But, while this new album from Gold Bears kicks you in the face, musically speaking, you’ve got to have a proper amount of balance; they accomplish that perfectly with “I Hope They’re Right.” It’s a ballad with a distorted guitar rocketing through the background, while a female vocal harmonizes perfectly with Underwood. It’s a nice bit of respite, allowing listeners to catch their breath for a short instant. Surely the gentle quality of this tune will illustrate just how far the songwriting has come since the band’s inception. It’s similar in approach to “Hey, Sophie,” at least in so far as both songs are meant, in my eyes, as breathers. They introduce soft moments, though “Hey, Sophie” uses more of a ringing circular guitar approach as opposed to a stretched out ballad with guitar accents. These songs tie the record together; they still hold to thematic points, but they give you a different approach from which to view the band.
Still, Dalliance succeeds the most when it’s loudest, and no song illustrates that point more so than “For You.” As soon as the words “you’re a mistake” are uttered, the song comes crashing in. Drums pound and guitars course through your ears with ferocity, though I think there’s a definite infectious quality in the delivery of the vocal. At the point of writing, it’s probably one of my favorite tracks of the last few months. I especially appreciate how the song’s energy fades away into the back of the track; it’s a touch that I wasn’t expecting, but that caps off the tune in way that’s indescribable.
Gold Bears had the tunes long ago, but I feel that Dalliance is the record where it all seems so right. There’s a vitality in the album that provides a connection with the audience; it refuses to fade. You can turn it up loud when you need to rock out, or you can have it as the perfect background to a backyard gathering, but regardless, you’ll feel this record crawl beneath your skin, inserting itself, permanently, into your consciousness.