Saturday, July 7, 2012

Album Review: Gold Motel - Gold Motel

Album Rating: C+
Pop acts are held to the expectation that an enormous hook makes a song, and to a point, that expectation is very valid. Songs need to "go somewhere." Post-rock has its climaxes, metalcore has its breakdowns, and pop music has its choruses. A song needs to end up somewhere, and that conclusion is usually what satisfies the listener. Gold Motel's self titled album is a showcase of the instrumental talents of the individual members, but the songs never seem to explode into anything that will implant itself in a listener's mind.

Summer House was full of hooks, energy, and excellent songwriting and much of that seems to be lost on Gold Motel. "Brand New Kind Of Blue" does feature an insanely catchy guitar riff, which showcases one of the strengths of the Gold Motel crew relative to The Hush Sound, but there's an issue when the guitar riff is a bigger hook than the chorus. The pre-chorus just seems off and the transition isn't as smooth as it should be, a big surprise being that they did practically the same sort of transition in "Safe In LA," but that magic is not repeated this time around.

"Musicians" and "Cold Shoulders" are the closest that Gold Motel has to repeating the stronger songs from Summer House, but each time the songs are grasped away from the verge of greatness. "Musicians" is super energetic, and excellent male harmonies from guitarist Dan Duszynski and frontwoman Greta Morgan's keys are a fantastic touch to the song, but the chorus is a continuation of the verses that just removes some of the energy without replacing it with catchiness. "Cold Shoulders" finally succeeds with the catchy chorus and awesome instrumental bridge, but Morgan's voice is shrill when she goes up high in the register, and while it doesn't ruin the song, it definitely takes away some of its appeal.

At times, Gold Motel feels like a less drugged up Best Coast, a feel that was not as apparent in the debut. Reverb filled guitars are common throughout, and there's also more of a 60's girl group feel at times. They do take it a step above the mediocrity of Best Coast with more interesting instrumental parts, many of which become the defining moments the individual tracks. The opening bells in "In Broad Daylight" give a teaser of what could possibly be a strong hook, but the theme is only used as a transition, ruining the potential for the song to be one of the catchiest on the album. It's rather disappointing that songs such as "Brand New Kind Of Blue," "In Broad Daylight," and "Musicians" that had potential to be summer jams ended up falling flat.

That may very well be the legacy of Gold Motel's self-titled album. The band obviously has talent, especially in the guitar department, and Morgan is a fantastic front woman that has shown the ability in the past to write fantastic pop hooks, but many of the songs on Gold Motel are just missing the big choruses that Summer House was full of. It's tough to discount some of the fantastic instrumentals throughout the album, but with no final destination in many of the songs, why return? A little extra "oomph" would push this album much higher up in the ranks of 2012's albums, but without it, it simply falls into mediocrity.


Track Listing:
1. Brand New Kind Of Blue
2. These Sore Eyes
3. Musicians
4. In Broad Daylight
5. Slow Emergency
6. Cold Shoulders
7. Your Own Ghost
8. Always One Step Ahead
9. Counter Clockwise
10. At Least We Tried
11. Santa Cruz
12. Leave You In Love

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