Are You Falling in Love?

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Gold-Bears, former Plastic Mastery frontman Jeremy Underwood's new band, are not a million miles away from what he used to do with his previous group -- maybe a little noisier and more intense. Are You Falling in Love? is very wordy, very melodic, and fairly jumps out the speakers and into your heart. Underwood tears through the words like he’s rushing to get them out before he collapses, telling tales of record store love affairs, twisted nostalgia, post-sex contemplation of life’s great mysteries, and general unease and desperation. His thin voice cuts through the busy, overdriven, and often thrilling mix of fuzzy guitars and massed voices like a sob, conveying all kinds of passion and pain without going overboard. It’s a little like a bargain-basement version of Arcade Fire or a less convoluted Neutral Milk Hotel; the album has the same kind of drama and heightened sense of emotion and occasion those bands worked so hard to achieve. It feels like there is definitely something important at stake for Underwood and the band, there is great commitment and dedication in the way they sing and play. Unlike the aforementioned bands, though, the small-scale sound of the record and Underwood’s more precise lyrical approach make the album easier to embrace on a personal level. In other words, there’s no chance the band will be playing stadiums or inspiring breathless cult followings anytime soon, and that’s OK. It’s enough that Are You Falling in Love? is the kind of record you can play when you’re feeling kinda messed up/mixed up and it might make you feel better, like you aren’t alone. And the album contains a bunch of songs like "Record Store," "All Those Years," and "Totally Called It" that will sound great blasting out of a radio on a lazy summer day. Emotion-wracked, ultra-melodic, and filled with jams (both fast and slow), this is an impressive debut from a band that could easily end up reaching some seriously lofty heights.

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