Voted by Overcast readers as second only to Hey Rosetta for the best rock band in town, Green & Gold had a lot to live up to on the sophomore effort. So Brad Pretty and Chad Pelley gave the thing an honest, critical, and track-by-track analysis. Overall, it’s an A grade sophomore effort, but like a relationship, it starts better than it ends.
Like Brad said, “Don’t let the nitpicking fool you, I sincerely love this album and consider it one of the best of the year from our little city. It flows effortlessly, and shows maturation and poise, as the band hybridizes their anthemic tendencies with complexity and texture.” But praise doesn’t help a band grow, so here we go:
Brad: A Wintersleep-inspired welcome that feels familiar, yet foreign. Like a friend who moved back home with a new haircut and a yoga routine. It’s a synthesis of a new direction and the anthemic indie-rock that catapulted Green & Gold into local darling status to begin with. It’s a song with a steady drive, punctuated by tasteful bass licks and a killer pre-chorus. This is how you start an album.
Chad: Definitely the right way to start the album: it’s catchy, it’s lively, it’s got a killer chorus, it’s full of promise for what’s to follow on the album, and it covers familiar Green & Gold terrain before the latter songs drive away from the band’s wheelhouse. Nice outro too; the keys and drums aren’t screwing around. Fancy panning. This one’s a big-time jam, and a full-band effort, not just some songwriter asking his pals to back him up. Keegan’s bassline adds a nice dancy thump.
Brad: Shimmering tones, a backbeat groove, and existential reflection wrapped in melancholy. One of my favourites, mostly due to Len’s rant in the outro. It’s here he shines as a wild soul wordsmith.
Chad: A personal fave as well. The intro’s been in my head for weeks, and the song structure is first rate; the tempo shifts and the structure will keep this one interesting long after the first few listens – it’s an unpredictable, strong song that builds beautifully to a kick-ass bridge. And yeah, the lyrics in this one hold nothing back. Lyrics never should.
3.) “The City Dance”
Brad: A purposely disjointed exercise in ambience, dynamism, and minimalism that just plain haunts. If anything, it’s far too abrupt. It has a vibe that could be far more realized and fleshed out, which is a shame because what’s already there is grounds for something biting and epic.
Chad: Haunting is the right word. While I agree it has unexplored room for the build we see in so many of these other songs, I think it’s good as is from a tracklisting perspective: this atmospheric, keys-based song sits well as track three to give us a breather. And if every song on here blew up it’d start to lose its impact?
4.) “Hold it Back”
Brad: I’ve always been a stickler for track order on an album, and the segue from The City Dance into this sets the mood perfectly. It’s a slow burning showcase for some memorable lines to start, but explodes into a discordant coda that is by far the grooviest and slickest on the album.
Chad: Yeah, there’s an art to ensuring each song comes in when the mood of the album is calling for it. This one really is nicely sandwiched between tracks 3 and 5. The opening half of the song is quite nice and moody, a favourite moment on the album. But while the quick-maybe-abrupt shift into a soncially adventurous wild ride, full of surf solos and pounding bass certainly makes it a jam, the front and back half of the song almost feels like a marriage between two good friends, “Hey we’re both good, right, so why not?,” and it’s a job to say if they’re well-matched. Either way, the outro shows off the kind of musicianship that can only bloom between a band that’s been playing together for years.
5.) “And then the New Crow Came”
Brad: The title track might be the weakest of them all, outside of the wacky little ditty that comes a bit later. It’s a little too mired in east coast clichés and feels uninspired and derivative in a composition and arrangement sense.
Chad: Go on, b’y, this one’s a top 3 for me. I think they sound like the Green & Gold the city fell for on their last album, but they sound like a more refined and assured version of themselves.
6.) “In the Garden by the River”
Brad: It’s a conflict. The vibe of the song is masterful, but it mostly retreads motifs used on the last album before awkwardly crescendo-ing into a forgettable dreary run.
Chad: This track is definitely guilty of feeling formulaic of the Green & Gold sound, and relatively uninspired. On first listen, it feels a little like a poor man’s The Body Knows. That said, it’s got a killer outro, I’m going to have to defend the outro it builds to, man.
7.) “Black Dot”
Brad: HERE WE GO! There’s some new territory! Dastardly paced and brimming with Neal’s witchy organ lines, its repetition makes it that much more evil. Another favourite.
Chad: Yeah, remember that brief post-grunge wave of “heavy music” that bands like Cloud Nothings flirt with? Where’d it go? It’s live show gold. Bring it back, b’ys, all the way back.
8.) “Fool’s Free Ticket”
Brad: B’ys were listening to Graceland, and that’s not a bad thing. A fresh and chipper number that doesn’t take itself too seriously but posits a new brand of precision pop for the band. Guaranteed to be the dance hit of St. John’s in summer 2016, and rightfully so.
Chad: Yeah, Paul Simon meets Bahamas? Totally island-vibed, and the best execution of very new territory. Daring and deadly, with nice Vampire Weekend-y guitar work and the bed of keys is perfect. For the aging local music enthusiast, there’s some Eddy Stevens Quartet in here. No one’s conjured that since their time on the scene.
9.) “Island of Gold”
Brad: A bit too cheeky for my own tastes, and certainly the most polarizing song on the album. I think it’s way too silly to be included, and detracts from the general vibe that was being built …but that fucking French verse gets me every time. Allons y a Montreal…
Chad: Definitely a forced venture. Maybe the problem is it’s hard to hear “Island of Gold” in the context of Green & Gold’s sound? It’s cool to flex all your songwriting muscles – it’s how you make them grow – but when you’re presenting yourself to the world, the best muscles to flex are your strongest ones?
Brad: A somewhat generic end to the album. There’s lots of cool stuff happening (Neal with more awesome key lines), and the post-rock lover in me loves the noise use. It’s like “The City Dance” in a way, an exercise in control when more chaos and continuous change might have been the better and more gripping choice. Not a bad song by any stretch, just underdeveloped when there’s so many good ideas there.
Chad: I know, hey? There’s nothing inherently wrong with the song, it just feels a little uninspired is all. It sounds good, but lacks the polished, powerful pull of the album’s opening tracks.