Black Gold | Rush (Redbull)

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cd_black-gold.gifOne listen to the first song, "Detroit," and I thought I was in love.







This one's been on my desk for a while. A long while. The reason? The combination of band name and cover art made me expect a vastly different band. I expected some cheap attempt at edginess, some over-the-top dance music, a stab at being the next great underground thing.

The band is a well-pedigreed one, featuring multi-instrumentalists Eric Ronick (Panic! At the Disco, Ambulance Ltd.) and Than Luu (M. Ward, Rachel Yamagata, shushshush), Siggy (POE, powerman5000, Justin Timberlake) and Alistair Paxtone (The Metronomes, Stapleton).

One listen to the first song, "Detroit," and I thought I was in love. The music's confident and rich, the vocals sliding into an easy falsetto. Next up, "Plans & Reveries," is a perfect indie pop song; I cannot find a single thing to criticize. Even the lyrics are a kind of credo: "I want more, give me more/ I want the burn and bliss again."

With its poppy beat, "Breakdown" invites sing- and dance-alongs. This is where the Quincy Jones-era Michael Jackson comparisons come in; it stays just on this side of boy-band territory. (Even if it went over I'd probably love it just as much.) With its shout-along choruses, "What You Did" is a high-energy, synth-driven number.

And that's pretty much it for the upbeat. Somehow, I just like that a band called Black Gold has a song called "Silver"...more than the song itself, I'm afraid. With its laid-back tempo, it brings down the energy of the album. Similarly, "Shine" is a mellow one, too; not bad, just kind of a buzzkill, y'know? "The Comedown" is, well, just as it sounds; "Run" is deceptive, more of a slow jog, as Black Gold picks up the pace ever so slightly; the soaring chorus at least offers a stab at redemption.

Fortunately, halfway through this maudlin bunch, there's "Idols" to save the day. Here, the vocals are huskier; on this track, you can definitely tell one of the members was formerly in Ambulance Ltd. The upbeat refrain is a bonus.

What began with such danceable promise somehow, for some reason, devolves into a melancholy muddle. I'd like to see this band live. And I'd like to see if they can present a more cohesive and upbeat offering the next time around. B- | Laura Hamlett

RIYL: Poppy stuff and droopy stuff

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