The tradition is as old as time. Winter retreats from the torrents of snow and penetrating winds to the sanctity of sunnier climates, warming breezes and the chance to move even a few steps slower. Not surprisingly, around February and March, my musical preferences get the same wanderlust and after yesterday’s record snowfall, the long
overdue awaited debut from Vancouver’s No Gold is the perfect escape.
The self-titled LP – out Feb. 22nd on Unfamiliar – is a collection of snapshots; moments in time that define the band. Grooves are ridden until they burn out, then discarded. Blink and you’ll miss it, but make no mistake they will consume you. After a cryptic intro, an almost two-minute blast of fuzz and chimes that is laced with potential energy, the three-piece explodes out of the starting gate with the West African guitars and tropical undertones of “Rainforts.” The guitar work is paired with funky bass lines and rhythmic vocals that fit the melody like perfectly tailored slacks.
Most bands would be happy to rest their hats on a 5-minute gem like “Rainforts” and simply try time and time again to recreate it, but the boundaries of No Gold’s sound contract and expand like a single cell organism. This current iteration is less dependent on the tropical beats that have made the band a staple on the Vancouver scene (although the trade mark infectious island sounds are still present on jams like “Weird Week”, a Caribbean groove that offsets a song about getting high set directly in the band’s home city), but new textures and and airy cushions of synths are as crucial to the success of the record. “Mood Hut” abandons any hint of sunshine and settles into a slightly chaotic club beat that flows nicely into the darker “We/Do/Be.” The gentle electronic wash of “Resolver” is another retreat into the shadows and even as the band walks along the coastal beaches on the fragmented closer (“Puluti”) and you feel the warmth against your skin, you can’t help but think this vacation, while warm and exhilarating, might not be the perfect escape you had hoped.
I knew I’d be on board with the infectious islands sounds No Gold has been delivering for years now, but they surprised me with a depth and diversity that supports and accentuates the carefree vibe they had already perfected. Don’t sleep on this one, y’all.