subota, 29. lipnja 2013.

Big Deal - June Gloom (2013)

Chronique : Big Deal - June Gloom

Kako bi zvučalo da su My Bloody Valentine u paralelnom svemiru postali "običan" pop bend.

Straight up: Big Deal's music isn't the kind typically reviewed in textura, but the band's sophomore effort, June Gloom, wouldn't be denied. In clothing melodic pop in a guitar-generated wall-of-sound, the London-based duo of Kacey Underwood and Alice Costelloe follow in the glorious tradition of The Pixies and Nirvana. Theirs is a potent combination that receives a fabulous workout on this twelve-track outing.
On a typical Big Deal song, the duo's clear-throated voices pair up while guitars, bass, and drums generate molten heat behind them. The songs are so melodically strong, however, that if one were to strip them down to their skeletons, they'd still hold up. Gorgeous pop hooks are plentiful, so much so that a soaring song such as “Catch Up” will get you as high as any drug.
Don't be fooled by the plaintive opening seconds of “Golden Light,” which gradually moves beyond its guitar strums and a signature vocal pairing by Underwood and Costelloe into a rousing episode of dreampop euphoria. That opening salvo sets the stage for the anthemic “Swapping Spit,” “In Your Car,” and “Dream Machines,” intoxicating songs whose chiming guitar crush will have you wanting to roar down open highways in a convertible with the music blasting. Producer Rory Attwell deserves some degree of credit for capturing the group's sound on record without diluting its power.
While the album includes blistering cuts (e.g., the raging “Teradactol”), it includes comparatively quieter ones, too, such as “Call and I'll Come” and “Little Dipper” that lose none of their power for being restrained. Seven songs in, “Pristine” offers a temporary shelter from the storm, with Underwood on lead vocals and an acoustic guitar appearing alongside Costelloe's wordless coo. The two worlds come together beautifully in the closing song, “Close Your Eyes,” which begins in a heartbreakingly tender mode (“I won't ask why / If it was love/ We let it die / You have been blind / To what's inside / Was I on your mind”) before exploding for a magnificent coda—an incredible moment on an equally incredible album. -

Big Deal might have become synonymous with the structurally sparse yet emotionally stinging guitar pop as showcased on their critically acclaimed debut “Lights Out”, but get ready for a dramatic expansion of sound with their latest album “June Gloom”. The London based duo of Kacey Underwood and Alice Costelloe, aka Big Deal, are set to release the new album on Mute in Summer 2013.
Last year’s thunderous teaser ‘teradactol track, with its monstrous riffs and galloping drums was no red herring: on “June Gloom” Underwood and Costelloe flesh out their delicate, nocturnal tones with the help of a full band. Drums and bass take their sound to deeper, darker and more intoxicating heights, courtesy of producer Rory Attwell (Veronica Falls, PAWS, Male Bonding).
As a result, the 11 other tracks here are an exploration of the newfound confidence of ‘teradactol’, with a refinement and bold directness in singing and songwriting. Here, you’ll find a re-imagination of the golden age of alternative-rock; crunching grunge pop anthems sitting neatly alongside shimmering love songs aching with weariness and longing. If Big Deal’s earlier tracks felt emotionally lacerating, this new body of work is noisy, boisterous, with a more than assured melodic hook.
This evolution is made defiantly clear in the opener ‘golden light‘, which deliberately wrongfoots the listener by opening with some sweetly strummed chords and interlocking vocals before building to a rousing climax. Similarly, ‘dream machines’ crests on a jagged undertow of pounding drums, and the sinister ‘pillow’ gradually opens up to become something vast, scorched and desolate. The pair infuse the volume with their own inimitable, off-kilter take on angst-ridden emotional terrain; on the aptly titled ‘pristine’, they sing, darkness wash over me, I let it in, it let me be”, while on the otherwise upbeat ‘call and i’ll come’ Costelloe plaintively asks, “What if no one else compares/ what if no one else cares?”.
It all reaches a beautiful crescendo with the finale ‘close your eyes’, which explodes from an almost unbearably intimate confessional (“I won’t ask why/ if it was love/ we let it die”) into a coruscating maelstrom that is as indelibly affecting as it is thrilling. With “June Gloom”, Big Deal have expanded their sonic palette for sure, but they have certainly lost none of their potency. -

When you name your band Big Deal, you can elicit one of two responses: either people will think that you are, in fact, a really big deal, or you might get something sarcastic like, “Eh, big deal!” Thankfully, the duo of California-born Kacey Underwood and London’s Alice Costelloe fall more squarely into the former camp than latter thanks to the big, meaty alterna rock hooks on their sophomore release June Gloom. (Which is, yes, being cheekily released in the month of June.) This record is actually a departure for the group: 2011’s debut, Lights Out, was recorded with just electric and acoustic guitars backing the dewy male-female vocals. June Gloom, on the other hand, is the sort of record that could have been written on a single beat-up guitar, but the sound has been expanded to include drums and bass—so Underwood and Costelloe are pretty much a full band sort of deal these days. That would be fine in and of itself, but Big Deal has some killer songs to bring to the table this time, the sort of things that nestle comfortably into your ear, hang up a hammock, turn on a small light, and crack open a good book. Which is to say, these songs linger and stay awhile, even though the odd one will, if not have you reaching for Cults comparisons, leave you with the impression of having heard something familiar.
Indeed, there’s familiarity to be found in the 12 cuts that make up June Gloom and none is more pronounced than the intro to single “In Your Car”: the opening riff wholeheartedly steals the opening stuttered guitar notes of the Cars’ seminal “Just What I Needed”. Ric Ocasek would probably be penning a cease and desist letter, if not for the fact that the song quickly swerves off the road and becomes something other than just a clone of a great late ‘70s power pop gem. With the purring boy-girl vocals—Underwood sounds as remarkably laconic as the dude from Marcy Playground—the song is a simple, fist-in-the-air, driving (literally and figuratively) anthem. But that’s not all that’s great about June Gloom. “Teradactol” has a shoegazey tone to it with fuzzed out guitars, and I’m sure Underwood and Costelloe are writing a check and sending a bottle of wine to My Bloody Valentine for inspiration. However, the song is more than a carbon copy of a MBV track: the vocals are pushed to the fore, and the song actually starts and stops to collect its breath. “Call and I’ll Come”, with its twangy, jangly guitar line, catches a particular Californian wave, and, if all goes according to plan, I’m sure it will be dominating radio playlists when the sun is at its apex this summer, when you’re lying on a beach somewhere with a portable radio, nursing some suntan lotion to block the harmful UV rays.
Meanwhile, “Pillow” has a menacing slink: it crawls up behind you, taps you on the shoulder and gives you a great big wallop on the cheek. It’s invigorating, even though the couple coo “I don’t know what you need” on the song. Well, you practically need this since it’s so darn catchy. “Little Dipper”, meanwhile, jettisons the full band arrangement of most of the rest of the album (“Pristine” is also another song in this laid-back, just guitars and heavenly vocals vein) and becomes quite the quiet and lilting lullaby. “Don’t go”, the couple pleads here, and I’m totally on board with that. You just don’t want the chilled out vibe to end. And, perhaps the very best thing is at the very end of the album: the six-minute anthem (for a 17-year-old girl) “Close Your Eyes” has a particularly lonesome quality to it, with just an easily strummed lazy guitar until the song reaches a climax and explodes into a thrilling maelstrom of metallic shimmer. You can practically break out the glitter for this song, which is an electrifying conclusion to an already great record.
June Gloom is really an album that’s mostly killer, little filler—pretty much all to be found here is engaging and winsome, and one’s appreciation for the record grows with repeated listens. However, if there’s one thing I’m not sure of, it’s that June Gloom feels more like a collection of songs—really great songs, granted—and less like a robust album that hangs together as an artistic statement. June Gloom  is kind of a singles collection to a point, but the good news is that just about everything is of solid quality and provides a sunny, breezy concoction that you can just lay back and enjoy. A candid confession to make here: I actually listened to this disc while pursuing some online personal ads, and the lush male-female vocals and hooky hooks provided the perfect soundtrack to such a wistful activity. So perhaps my judgement might be clouded, but this album exudes the feeling of hope and promise: that there might be someone right for you out there, despite all of the pitfalls of being in a long-term relationship that this record seemingly points out. “What if no one else cares?” sings Costelloe on “Call and I’ll Come”, as though she might be slightly worried about public reaction to this. Rest assured: based on the evidence here, there’s an awful lot to care about with the carefree, easy-going sounds of June Gloom, with almost nary a gray cloud in sight. As the title suggests, this is a perfect summery album that combines the wet feel of unpredictable English weather with the airy, breezy feel of something born out of California. It is, in a word or two, a pretty big deal; it’s excellent. - Zachary Houle

When you name your band Big Deal, it’s like a social contract you sign with listeners. You should either try to live up to the moniker or be so comically not a big deal that you fulfill the still-ample cultural need for ironic entities.
On their 2011 debut, Big Deal did neither. The U.K. duo failed to break through on any functional level and seemed like a band that had potential to spare but possibly lacked the will to push themselves to a “big deal” level. Still, there was something special about ‘Lights Out,’ and it’s a warm and inviting work to revisit. Kacey Underwood and Alice Costelloe sound as if they’re miles apart and their music is unsharable.
But beginning with the single ‘Teredactol,’ which dropped eight months ahead of this album, Big Deal seemed to have reimagined the project. Perhaps they’d grown bored with their own emotional subtleties, or maybe they were worried their audience would reach that same point.
The resulting album, ‘June Gloom,’ is a ripe blast of vocal, guitar and even textural hooks. Everything that Big Deal offer sounds vivid and focused, and at the same time, they retain the warmth that was ‘Lights Out”s one guiding principal.
Whereas ‘Teradactol’ foreshadowed fierce noise-pop, ‘June Gloom’ recalls something similar to the Joy Formidable, if you were to remove the obtuse lyrics, or Metric, if you could replace the synths with guitars. ‘Swapping Spit’ and ‘In Your Car’ sound so unabashedly big that it’s easy for the listener to forget there are only two people behind the music. ‘Call and I’ll Come’ doesn’t try to put makeup on its grimy features, with Underwood’s vocals barely in key and delivered with such a contrast to Costelloe’s that it’s like the two are meeting in the middle, one trying every trick he can think of to match what the other does effortlessly.
The second side features some down-tempo, old-school Big Deal, but this time, that approach serves as a foil, and songs like ‘Pristine’ are many times more effective. Likewise, ‘PG’ works this angle for a dramatic mid-track moment when the quiet is swept away in a blast of cymbals and fuzz. ‘June Gloom’ somehow manages to work this dichotomy into the best of both worlds. Big Deal still sound personal and intimate, but this is one record that doesn’t require a certain mood or occasion for revisiting. - Philip Cosores

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