"Where are the hooks""
The above quote, perhaps in various different ways, was uttered by some hapless major-label executives to Gatsby's American Dream during their search for a new record label a few years ago. Anyone who's actually listened to the Seattle quintet's quirky pop-punk-meets-prog-meets-dance-rock knows exactly how far that dude's head was up his own ass, to put it bluntly. And quite apparently, the erstwhile morons and their typically commericialize-everything attitudes pissed GAD the f*ck off. This is blatantly obvious when listening to GAD's new self-titled record, their 3rd proper full-length and an all-out indictment of the music industry as a whole.
Oftentimes, a self-titled record tends to be either a band's first album or a record intended to make a statement, re-affirming a sense of purpose or direction for the band in general. And make no mistake, the latter obviously takes precedence here. Gatsby's is making a statement here, eschewing almost completely their prior lyrical fascination with high-school/Orwellian literature that made up much of [i]Ribbons And Sugar[i] and Volcano
in favor of telling the musical establishment and label cronies, with their well-known proclivities towards screwing their artists out of as much as possible, to f*ck themselves. "It would be too easy making 10%/off the tours we book for you/So we figure we'll take as much as we can because it's not up to you" is only one of the poignant quotes (this one from Badd Beat
) that sums up GAD's feelings perfectly on this release. Basically, read the Sputnik headline "Hawthore Heights leaves Victory", put it to good
music and drippingly-sarcastic twists, and you have this album's lyrical theme in a nutshell. The album is certainly more aggressive at points, with several gang-shout vocals contributed liberally throughout most of the songs as well as showcasing even more angular guitar work and mathy drumming, while the flipside is that this is probably the album the major labels always wanted from GAD to begin with. The dancy parts are dancier, the hooks are stronger than they've ever been, and Nick Newsham's perfect whiney/calm croon traverses quite well between laid-back singing and full-on angry shouts.
Musically, it's similar to Volcano
only improved upon. Bobby Darling carries the guitar and co-production duties quite well for one dude, filling out the sound with no problems. His preference for playing second-fiddle to Rudy Gajadhar's insanely tight drumming is one of GAD's most striking aspects. The riffs never get too techy or lose sight of the song for the sake of being tech, but he can subtly rip a bit when no one's looking. He's kinda like the Daron Malakian of the pop-punk genre, if you will. Rudy needs no real plugging... the guy is certainly the most schooled member of the band technique-wise, and the band would kinda suck without him ripping his crazy Dillinger-meets-disco time signatures. He doesn't have as many awe-inspiring moments as he did on Volcano
(like the bridges from Badlands
), but he throws in more than enough angular prettiness and dance-beat madness while outplaying most other drummers in popular music today. Kirk's bass interplays tightly with Darling's riffage to keep it all together, but it's the times where his lines are the main draw (Margaritas And Cock
is a great example) that he really shines. But most surprisingly is the higher prominence of keyboards on this record, especially in songs like Filthy Beasts
and We Can Remember It For You Wholesale
. It adds a crazy, evil carnival-like tension to some of the proceedings that only complements the wonderful weirdness of GAD.
The strongest aspects of the album are the same throughout much of their other ones - the striking pop sensibilities intermined with the impressive technical ability and angular weirdness. Pop-punk meets Rush meets Dillinger, in a way. Not many bands can do all of that well, if at all. It's all pretty fresh and quite interesting for a pop-punk band to constantly push the boundaries of an admittedly stale, cookie-cutter genre. There aren't any bands that sound much like them, and for a first-time listener, you can't really go wrong with this record.
Gatsby's American Dream is:
Nick Newsham - Vocals
Bobby Darling - Guitar
Kirk Huffman - Bass
Kyle O'Quin - Keyboard
Rudy Gajadhar - Drums
OVERALL RATING: 4 (Excellent