Conjuring the glimmering sunshine, crisp breeze, and carefree vibes of the West Coast, it comes as no surprise that Chicago-based indie pop purveyors Gold Motel began working on their second album by traveling to California. From the hills of Laurel Canyon to a pool house in Glendale, these early sessions set the foundation for what became their self-titled sophomore record. Where full-length debut Summer House was more of a vehicle to showcase singer/keyboardist Greta Morgan, with Gold Motel a full band with all its unique personalities is on display (hence the decision to make the album self-titled), revealing expanded musicality and matured songwriting. This time around, beyond the lighter side of life and love, Gold Motel navigate adult relationships and reflect on the past, and cut their exuberant jangle with bittersweet melodies. On "At Least We Tried," a couple's less than ideal living arrangement reveals cracks in the foundation of the building as well as the relationship, while "Leave You in Love" (originally released as a single in summer 2011) observes, "We didn't move on/We didn't change," juxtaposing these harsh truths against carefree handclap breakdowns and crisp harmonies. And Gold Motel expands from those expected sonic conventions: check out the moody, organ-driven "Slow Emergency" (from the 2010 single Talking Fiction), which combined with Morgan and Dan Duszynski's duetting vocals owes as much to "What a Fool Believes" or Hall & Oates as, say, Phantom Planet; or the new wave-flavored "Your Own Ghost." For classic Gold Motel sounds, it doesn't get much better than "Musicians," a gleeful tribute to their struggling artist friends from its sugary guitar buzz to an enthusiastic shout captured in the background. With Gold Motel the bandmembers are wiser, but never weary, simultaneously expanding their sound around their new world-view and fitting it within the candy-pop shell they've crafted so well.
AllMusic Review by Chrysta Cherrie