Gold-Bears' 2011 debut, Are You Falling in Love?, was a collection of dazzlingly wordy pop songs, often sparkling with ornate arrangements and group vocals rising up out of its din of fuzzy guitars. Follow-up album Dalliance finds songwriter Jeremy Underwood joined by an almost entirely new cast of Bears to bring to life the 11 more abrasive and in many cases explosive tunes that make up the album. Endlessly melodic and produced with a foggy lo-fi varnish that calls to mind the glorious murk of Black Tambourine, the songs here are mostly quick energetic bursts, often soaked with the bitterness of lost love and rejection. The tunes bounce between furiously energetic tracks like album opener "Yeah, Tonight" and the organ-heavy "Death with Drums" and the occasional breath-catching slower moment like "I Hope They're Right," a confessional acoustic ballad that still hides multiple tracks of relentless feedback low in the mix. Underwood's shouty melodies bring to mind various indie pop greats, whether barking out in a husky Wedding Present-meets-Mac-from-Superchunk snarl on "Chest" or evoking Lou Barlow covering Love on the gorgeous jingle bell-laden stomp of "From Tallahassee to Gainesville." At just the right moments, supportive vocals from friends such as Pam Berry and Emma Cooper add depth and crackle to these songs already brimming with nostalgia, regret, and at times unbridled joy. Dalliance rushes by in just over half an hour, but the brevity of the songs is part of the album's appeal. This is indie pop at its absolute finest, Gold-Bears telling their own story of resentment and an always slippery grip on love with the same melancholic charm as some of the many unheard legends of the C-86 scene or the mixtape champions of the American underground.
AllMusic Review by Fred Thomas