Male Gaze

Gale Maze

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Digging up the corpse of the '80s has been a popular pastime ever since the decade ended. The urge to revisit the era remains as strong as ever in 2015, with loads of synth pop revivalists and overcoated gloom rockers making records, plus every bloated, overly tan original artist who still can is touring or making some kind of comeback. Very few of these gravediggers have even half the energy or blown-out nerve of Male Gaze on their nearly self-titled debut, Gale Maze. Made up of guys who were in bands like Mayyors, Blasted Canyons, and the Mall, the San Francisco band takes the darkness of Joy Division, the pop hooks of Modern English, and the desperate weirdness of bands like X, mixes it all up, and barfs it out with speaker-rattling glee. Singer Matt Jones has closely studied Ian Curtis, delivering his lines in a similarly detached manner, but with a frantic drama that fits well with the overdriven sound the band whips up. The bass and guitars push into the red, the tempos charge ahead furiously, and the mix is live and trebly, sounding like the speakers can barely contain the band's vigorous attack. The album is so exciting and full of fire that even if the songs were dogs, it'd still be worth checking out whenever a blast of cold-hearted energy was required to get you through the day. The songs aren't remotely doggy though, with heavy tracks like "Smog Dawn" and "Mr. Wrong" thundering and pounding like the Wipers cranked to 11 smashed up against jumpy psych-pop songs ("Cliffs of Madness," "Early Surgeon"), all of them with enough brutal melody and razor-wire hooks to keep you coming back again and again. The record's short running time, 24 minutes, means you will want to listen at least twice every time you pull it out. Gale Maze stands up to repeated listens and serves dramatic notice that the band has arrived to show all the '80s wannabes that you don't have to play pretty and nice with the old sounds; sometimes it works better if you twist and distort them to make them something all your own.

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