When Greta Morgan returned to her hometown of Chicago from LA, she brought with her the sun-drenched pop feel that would become Gold Motel. Quickly gathering musicians to fill out the band, and they put out their debut EP just a few months later. Since then they’ve had an impressive touring record, playing festivals all over the US, as well as some shows in the UK with Hellogoodbye. Somehow I’ve managed to ignore their ever-growing popularity over the last two years, but I’m here to tell you that I’ve been missing out-and maybe you have been too.
Having read a little bit about the band before I heard this record, I had some ideas about what to expect and they were pretty close. I’d describe the band like a sunny Camera Obscura (a band that I love). Gold Motel’s self-titled album is like the antithesis to My Maudlin Career. Where the scottish group can find themselves mired in pessimism, Morgan and co always sound optimstic, even in the most trying of times. The jovial guitar licks and Morgan’s voice, which reminds me of a less acidic Jenny Lewis, keep the mood up, even when things do get down, like the track “Counter Clockwise.”
There’s a lot to love on this record, and very little to dislike. The album has this constant sonic similarity going through every song that I find helps drive the record’s narrative. It’s not that all the songs sound exactly the same, but there are definitely themes that lay the structure for every song. One thing that’s always important in this style of sunny 60s-ish pop is the percussion, and Adam Coldhouse does a great job of giving each song it’s own unique rhythm.
The big hit for the album, in my mind, is the song “Always One Step Ahead.” The hook is ridiculously catchy, and it almost got me to stand up on the bus and start dancing. The first verse fools you into thinking this is going to be a kind of flat song, but once the chorus hits and they let that funky guitar from Dan Duzsynzski fly it becomes one of the best songs of the year.
That’s not the only song this album has to offer, though. Almost every song on Gold Motel plays like it could be a single, with epic repeatability on multiple tracks. So far this summer there have been some good albums released, but this is the first one that really feels like a summer record. I think it would be good for any season, but it just screams sunshine and good times (much like last years Dye It Blonde by Smith Westerns). The combination of Morgan’s vocals and the rest of the bands steadfast commitment to perfection makes for some really great songs to rock away those long nights at the beach.
Gold Motel was released last week, so it is available now on iTunes if you’d like to take a listen. The band will continue to tour through the summer, hitting cities on the east coast before returning to Chicago for a show at Schubas on July 26th.
If you’re still uncertain about picking up the record, check out this long podcast featuring Gold Motel playing some songs and talking about their last album, Summer House, from Vocalo.org