Golden Daze

Simpatico

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AllMusic Review by

Los Angeles duo Golden Daze arrived in 2016 on a misty cloud of tape echo and dusty bedroom psychedelia. The project of friends and co-songwriters Ben Schwab and Jacob Loeb, the band's affinity for subtle popcraft was apparent, swathed as it was in dense layers of lo-fi fuzz and late-'60s tonal cues. Three years later, the two return with Simpatico, a gently mesmerizing follow-up whose increased production values help to frame their songs in a more sophisticated, if still hazy light. Unlike many bands with more than one songwriter, Golden Daze unwaveringly present themselves as a single unit, singing together in unison or harmony throughout the entire album and keeping the focus squarely on their collaboration. Since much of the subject matter here seems to be the growing discord within Schwab and Loeb's own friendship, the steadfastness of their unified front presents an interesting dynamic. A stormy, autumnal sadness seems to permeate the entire album -- from the rainy opener, "Blue Bell," on through the lush title cut that closes out the set. The shoegazing feel of their debut is replaced on Simpatico by a greater emphasis on detailed arrangements, its overall tone slightly resembling the Brian Wilson-via-High Llamas school of ornate melancholia. A dreamy, George Harrison-esque slide guitar threads throughout highlights like the excellent "Took a Fall" and "Sentimental Mind," two exquisite indie pop gems that represent the significant amount of growth Golden Daze have achieved here. Having completed this strong outing amid the apparent turmoil of their own creative partnership, the question remains, will the band survive for a third outing?

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