When I first got emails regarding Toronto based art rockers Gay, I was quite ready to slap a #murtaugh on the band and call it a day. Truth be told, if the LP wasn’t called Dance Mix 95 and nostalgia frequently consume me, I would have.
But let me be clear; there is nothing juvenile about this debut full length. In theory, it’s a Summer record, but Gay refuses to settle for simple hooks and spiky energy to convey the imagery. Punchy, proggy art rock and touching ballads stand side by side with remarkable confidence. Strings and horns add maturity and intimacy (“Military Man” is destined to soundtrack film and television), but on bigger efforts like “Once Upon a Time” and “Doug Martin” you find the quartet swinging for the fences and launching moon shots.
Although the end results are certainly not 1:1 mappings, Gay fits nicely alongside David Bryne, Orbison, Jens Lekman, Apollo Ghosts and Roxy Music records. The young men are playful, witty, charming and talented enough to turn simple ideas into something remarkable.
At first blush you might think these songs are offered a little tongue in cheek; a theatrical performance of fabricated characters, but once you settle into this record, you see the sentiments are real. Dance Mix 95 is an self-assured debut, one that jumps past potential and marks this coming out party with the prestige and stateliness of a beautillion ball.