I really appreciated the originality of GOLD’s previous album “No Image”, which mixed a gothic darkwave style with strong song structures.
So too “Optimist” is dark and sinister. Hypnotising and moody rhythms, shadowy sounds and a haunting female vocal line are at the heart of these strong songs. It’s not heavy in playing style but is deliberately so in its atmosphere. There’s something tribal about the beat of “Summer Thunder”, but that’s just a part of it as the song unfolds and fills the air with sparkling depth and darkness. “There is nothing here to be afraid of”, sings the lady. That’s not the impression I had. One impressively dark gothic ode leads to another. The songs are simple on the face of it as the lady tells her story but there’s so much depth in the instrumental support that this is the musical equivalent of a dark and rich fruit cake. And those vocals are sublime, managing to combine angelic tones with latent threat. “Is there anyone out there?” she asks. “Teenage Lust” takes the atmosphere down several notches to the point of being funereal. Sound waves envelop the gloomy and woozy air and capture a nightmare. By contrast “No Shadow” is a breezy gothic number but inevitably it has a sinister twist. As I listened to “I Do My Own Stunts”, I reflected that there’s a kind of innocence about these indie-style songs but as menace lurks, there’s nothing innocent about this. Instrumentally it hums and buzzes, and invigorates the soul. Heaviness finds its way into “Be Good” and creates a new element but what I like the most is the tribal element behind many of the songs, including the following one “Come with Me”. It’s the foil for the ever shadowy vocals and colourful power play from the guitarists as the tension heightens. The sad “Tear” ends the album, but it’s a sine-tingling representation of sadness as the expansive and risingly epic sounds and vocals take the song into the sophisticated realms to which we have become privileged over the album’s course.
What is impressive is that GOLD create a distinctive world of their own and draw us into it. It is a dark world but while permanently atmospheric and dark, “Optimist” has personality. It is a stunning and original collection of intelligently constructed songs.
(9/10 Andrew Doherty)