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Cold In the Guestway

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Album Review

The trickling notes into sprawling stomp of "Take Your Picture" kicking off Cold in the Guestway show that Gypsyblood like to make a big formal mess of noise — no surprise really, seeing as plenty of bands are all about the indie-level/arena-scaled approach (the distanced vocals from Adam James, sounding like they're coming from a massed height, don't hurt that impression). Where the album gets a bit strained is when it doesn't change too much from that initial splash — if it was derivative it was at least energetic, but over the course of an album the appearance of another pepped-up chant-along can cause the tracks to melt into each other. Every so often something stands out — the core guitar part on "Manofstates" has a simple but addictive feeling to it, matched nicely by the vocals and a sense of dynamics thanks to the midsong breakdown — but often it can be a blurry overload that's hard to catch details in. (Also, calling a song "Endless Summer" that doesn't quite work as well as either the Beach Boys or Fennesz might be asking for it a bit.) The clear flip side by default is that things perk up whenever Gypsyblood slow down and breath a bit. This occurs first time through on "A Song Called Take 2," which allows them to explore a dreamier vibe mining a calmer Jesus and Mary Chain/early shoegaze vein, especially in the drawn-out vocals, while the attractive smoky guitar twang of "Hey Gloria," moving along as a quick but not hyperdriven clip, is another winner. "Dirty Thieves" takes it even quieter with an acoustic guitar part, though the heavy drawling chorus makes it sound more like a crew of drunks wandered into the studio — then again, they do sing about whiskey and the like, so go with what you know.

Cold In the Guestway, Gypsyblood
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