On their debut album, the Arizona band Gospel Claws burst right out of the gate with a sound that is at once perfectly thrilling and perfectly obvious. Which sounds like damning with faint praise but there are no two ways around it -- the opening song "Walk Me Down" has a great drum rumble of a start, an inspiringly nervous guitar riff, equally nervy vocals, and the addition of chimes along the way -- and it all shows that the group really does adore the Arcade Fire and everyone that the Arcade Fire equally love (Echo & the Bunnymen not the least). With that starting point irrevocably marked, Gospel Claws spend the rest of their time on the album looking to either play things out further in that vein or try stepping beyond it when possible. On balance, they still have a ways to go yet; even the subject matter of many songs sounds like a Win Butler equivocal meditation on suburban life (thus the start of "Summer Nights Lakeside" -- "No worries, no school, it's summertime," pitched somewhere between appreciation and looking askance -- and the Springsteen-ish "Need for Speed"). It's perhaps telling that the most individual moment is the tape-hiss a cappella singalong "Somebody Stole My Money," even when that feels like something with its own clear antecedents in lo-fi and Harry Smith/Alan Lomax field recordings. Gospel Claws may still move further along with their approach over time, but for now they're fated to be in the slipstream of those bands that they clearly love to death.
Share this page
AllMusic Review by Ned Raggett