You Know the Rules
The Gay is the second band from western Canada I’ve been exposed to in the last month. Much like the other band, Young and Sexy, The Gay shows an intimate knowledge and mostly effortless replication of the ’60s California beach party vibe. Even the album’s cover art pays homage to the age of LPs, with its back cover testimonial and photo of the band decked out in flashy mod and frilly hippy apparel, clustered together on a verdant lawn on the front. Looking closely at this picture, though, incongruities start showing up: black fingernails, half-hidden tattoos, etc. It’s safe to assume they, in their musical infancy, didn’t only listen to bands like The Turtles, The Beach Boys and The Byrds. They had steady doses of rock as well.
As such, occasionally the band’s retro songwriting capabilities get away from them. “Opulent Canine” suffers both lyrically and musically from rather bland accordion-driven verse melodies but explodes into exquisite four-part harmonies and an indelible stock pop riff on the chorus. On the flipside, “Robert Smith” builds Rilo Kiley-ian vistas on the verses until it hits the stilted, mechanized chorus.
When the band does get into something good, they produce pretty spectacular stuff. Check out the bittersweet and elegant prom polka on “Cindy Lou” and the chiming, minimalist music box pop of “Critics.” For a group who seems to be fighting hard to keep their retro filters in place, these songs show they’ve got undeniable talent playing straight pop songs. But c’mon, their name is THE GAY… why would they want to do that? A little more time experimenting to find the ideal ratio of rock to pop and their next album should be grand.
Mint Records: http://www.mintrecs.com/