With his latest album, Gold Rush, Ace Enders of I Can Make a Mess Like Nobody’s Business embraces his younger side again. After his previous album The World We Know, which was an episodic, ambient conceptual album, Gold Rush feels informal, energized, and even a little silly. Ace Enders has been in the scene news quite a bit lately over concern surrounding statements about the doubtful continuation of his musical career, but with the support of fans and a Kickstarter account, Gold Rush is both something of a miracle and a community effort. Whether for this reason, or accidently, but fitting nonetheless, the album feels very intimate. Acoustic guitars, egg shakers, and bongo drums give the feel of a jam session, or a show in your living room, rather than an electrified studio piece. But if this is a jam session, then it’s the best jam session you’ve ever heard.
Gold Rush is short with only 9 tracks and the instrumentation on most of the songs is simplistic, but Enders’ winsome songwriting makes it an album of memorable melodies. Despite the simple nature of the songwriting, Enders makes some bold choices—the chorus of “Don’t Leave Me” is almost entirely guitar-free, with just Ender’s voice singing one of the album’s richest melodies over several layers of drums. The album is consistently good, but also very consistent in sound and it just barely avoids all sounding pretty similar. “Connected” begins with a nice studio sheen and electronic guitars and “Lame Duck” is a standout with the most complex harmonies and interesting choruses.
The album is frank lyrically, with most of the songs recognizing the trials and disappointments of life, but all of these songs are set over upbeat melodies and always leave the listener with plenty of hope: “And when we’re flat broke and done pretending life is gonna change, with the pressure building, I hope that day you will say, ‘Baby our love was worth the misery.’” All of the songs look forward to the future, and some of them are downright playful, with the youthful spellings in “Lame Duck.”
If you’re looking for sophistication, Gold Rush probably isn’t the place find it and there will be plenty who prefer the smoother, more philosophical Enders of The World We Know, but I can’t help but suspect that this is the real Ace Enders—honest, real, laid back, and really, really catchy.
3. Don't Leave Me
5. Gold Rush
6. Had to Be There
7. Lame Duck
9. Train Stop