Golden Blonde is a collaboration between Sydney (Australia) born musicians Adam Guzowski (vocals/guitar/clarinet/tenor recorder), Austin Buckett (Rhodes/Hammond/B-3, synths, Fujitone/percussion), Hugh Deacon (drums/percussion) and Joshua Becker (bass guitar), with vocal contributions from Amy Wilson on certain tracks. This is a review of their eleven track debut release, Gwen, which came out on the 2nd September 2013.
The album begins with Lint, a track which juxtaposes thumping percussion and tormented vocals with a hint of OK Computer-era Radiohead about it. From here on this release takes a slightly more conventional approach, but is no less noteworthy for it. Guitar melodies overtake the digital in terms of presence but both exist comfortably within the mix.
Birch Bark is full of unsettling vocal harmonies and melodic passages and evolves nicely throughout its five minute timespan, leaving the listener wanting more.
You Lead Me is a particularly satisfying track, featuring raw rat-a-tat-tat percussion and gloriously hideous electronic samples played along to a smooth vocal drone. In fact, I think this song encapsulates the fabulous attention to detail Golden Blonde has, along with their ability to twist the listener’s emotions.
Relatively sparse and short at just over two minutes, Teeth in Open is an understated track which once again features those marvellous vocals and candid guitar work.
We Begin weighs in at a lengthy six minutes and succeeds largely in the captivating reversed electronic synth and that sweet percussion.
Oak and the first minute of Joan come across as little more than unusual fluff before the latter opens up into something far more than could have been expected. The fluttering piano gives way to eerie electronic sounds before the swaggering intro of Triage. Dual male/female vocals are joined by over-driven guitar chops and somewhat tribal drumming, which merge to form a fascinating track unlike anything I’ve heard this year… In a good way.
Clarinet opens out into a huge slab of sound, with indecipherable lyrics jostling for space amongst the beeps, whooshes and hip-hop percussion. Penultimate track Fuji begins with a polyphonic undertaking of 8-bit proportions accompanied by stripped-down vocals. The square-wave melancholy continues throughout the piece, before album finale Gwen wraps up the proceedings in a somewhat progressive and highly electronic affair which leaves the listener feeling satisfied.
This album was a great listen for me, as it offers experimentation alongside talented craftsmanship and tight instrumentalism. Sometimes bands try too hard to be “different” and end up producing little more than earache or a mixing disaster. Thankfully Golden Blonde have steered this project in the right direction and I look forward to subsequent releases with more than a little excitement.
Thanks again to Robbie for another great review. To find out more about his thoughts on the world in general join him on Twitter.
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