Gauntlet Hair

Stills

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AllMusic Review by

For Stills, the Chicago by way of Colorado duo Gauntlet Hair traveled to Portland, Oregon to record with Jacob Portrait (Unknown Mortal Orchestra). Inspired by the grey weather of the winter and by alternative rock from their teen years, the songs by singer/guitarist Andy R. and drummer Craig Nice continue to be gloomy, but manage to avoid the pits of goth and industrial by incorporating pop hooks worthy of a John Hughes soundtrack. Here, on Stills, the two do a nice job of recapturing the sound and feel of '80s retro groups by using vintage synths and drum machines, and in doing so give the songs a lasting nostalgic impression. "Simple" shares the plucky guitars and shiny synthesizers of "Let's Dance"-era David Bowie, and "Bad Apple" might bring to mind Billy Idol or Love and Rockets. These are shadowy, lo-fi takes on '80s musicianship, but they fall closer to the source than on 2010's Gauntlet Hair. The guitar parts are razor-sharp, sprinkled with the chorus and delay effects commonly found in new romantic acts, the vocals are reverbed in the same cavernous wash as the Jesus and Mary Chain, and with the group moving on from the thudding 808 kicks and pulsing side chain compression commonly found in witch house and chillwave, this album doesn't seem to be as much a product of the time. Instead, with practically no dependence on laptop recording tricks, Stills sounds completely lost in another era, and all the darker and truer for it.

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