Die Alone

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Die Alone Review

by Mark Deming

Hailing from Seattle, Gazebos (no articles, please!) are a punk-pop band whose punk side is more a matter of smarts and attitude than the ferocity of their attack. In fact, on much of their debut album, 2016's Die Alone, Gazebos sound like they could have been a lost New Wave band from the late '70s, complete with purposefully quirky lyrics, playfully angular melodies, artfully spare guitar licks with plenty of phase shifting for seasoning, and a lead singer slightly less affected than Lene Lovich or Cyndi Lauper, but with no shortage of vocal tricks in her repertoire. (Heck, "Boys I Like" even sounds like it could have been a hit for the Waitresses if they'd been able to hear it through a wrinkle in time.) Like many of their skinny-tie-wearing brethren of decades past, Gazebos seem to be concerned with cleverness as much as music on Die Alone, and there's no denying this foursome has worked out their songs and style with great care; TV Coahran's less-is-more guitar style, drippy synth patches, and melodic approach to songwriting give the music a certain lean sophistication, Shane Herrell and Jordan T. Adams are a stalwart rhythm section, and Shannon Perry's lead vocals are executed with smarts and a genuine wit. And they upend expectations by playing their cover from Grease ("There Are Worse Things I Could Do") pretty much straight and without a trace of irony. However, one crucial difference between Gazebos and the typical 1979 new wave band is Gazebos often seem to be lacking in energy, and it isn't until the last two songs ("Now Allowed" and "Boys I Like") that the album feels honestly exciting on the level of, say, the Paul Collins Beat or Yikes! Fellow Seattle scene veteran Kurt Bloch gets Gazebos' performances on plastic with uncluttered accuracy, but ultimately, Die Alone sounds like this band needed a few large cups of coffee before they hit "record." The ideas are sound, but the execution could stand to be less precise and more frantic.

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