The Sound of Curves – Gone Gatsby
Rock music has been forced, by commercial demands and the culture as a whole, to transform itself in order to survive as a viable artistic force. As it always has been, it’s a genre reliant on its performers to bring a healthy dose of personality to bear so that the standard array of clichés and poses are invigorated and seem fresh for each new generation of listeners. The Sound of Curves understands this. Their third album Gone Gatsby exists within a specific genre and tradition, but the songwriting isn’t simply paint by numbers nonsense. The band certainly has its own style and they aren’t afraid to exploit it, but they are likewise emboldened to attack these tunes with creativity and tweak the formulas with some truly individual touches that elevate the compositions far past their normal métier. One can hear a band reaching for something new on this album, a next step in their evolution, and bands willing to do that are, typically, the ones who survive along enough to feel posterity’s warmth.
The first real gem on this album is the title track. It’s an often surprising tune that’s clearly designed as an anthem of sorts, in light of it clearly reaching for some sort of performer/audience identification on the chorus, but it never hits on all of the expected turns that experienced listeners might be waiting for with such a track. “Summer Radio” is obviously commercially minded fare and the obvious work put in constructing its chorus proves that, but vocalists Leonel Pompa and Roger Mahrer prove up to the challenge of making it work without ever making it seem too thought out. An abiding talent of this band that keeps recurring throughout the album is how good they are at making their obviously highly structured arrangements sound natural and breathing with pure inspiration. “Josephine” is a more muted moment, but the band is wise to not veer too far away from their established approach and, instead, allow the lyricism of this particular track inform their customary approach.
There are four tracks on the album that are unusual in the sense that they mix the past and present in dramatic ways. “Crawl”, “London”, “Blinker” and the finale “Whiskey Wrongs” are colored with a touch of the blues in each performance, centered on the biting guitar lines that lead guitarist Aaron Montano-Teague and rhythm guitarist Pompa are able to unleash. “London” and “Blinker” stand out in particular, especially the latter. “Blinker” is one of the cleanest examples on the album of the band pursuing a retro path, but the modern production keeps it firmly out of the realm of retro tribute. One of the most interesting songs on Gone Gatsby, “Tennessee”, summons up some of those influences lyrically, but the musical arrangement makes superb use of the band’s talent for utilizing electronic textures in their music. Gone Gatsby will reassure and jolt listeners at numerous points over its fourteen songs and, even if there is some filler, they have created a resounding third release that’s their best all around effort yet.
8 out of 10 stars