Gatsbys American Dream
Gatsbys American Dream

Gatsbys American Dream - Gatsbys American Dream

Gatsbys American Dream’s new record reads something like an open letter to the music industry. It’s blunt, angry, and to the point. The disc might as well be a picture of a middle finger pointed directly at…well, you can put it together. The band’s 2006 follow-up to last year’s critically acclaimed release Volcano finds the band recreating their sound once again. The addition of keyboardist Kyle O’Quinn adds a new dynamic to the band, the production is far more raw, and backing vocals are now done by guitarist Bobby Darling and bass player Kirk Huffman instead of lead singer Nic Newsham. Nic’s vocals are far more aggressive on this record, as it conveys more raw emotion than ever before. Gatsbys seems to have completely strayed away from the slower, methodically technical side that popularized the band on 2003’s Ribbons and Sugar. Instead, this self-titled release offers up songs that are generally faster-paced and contain a groove vibe to them. Many of the songs flow with incredible bass lines and gang vocals that make this the most danceable Gatsbys record yet.

The main concern from listeners will be how this record compares to Volcano. Is it a let down? The answer is no. It’s just different. The band chose to produce this record with no autotune on vocals, no extra effects, just straight tracking of only what they could achieve in their live show. The result may antagonize some, but it fits the message of the record, which is one that preaches the sanctity of music and having integrity, as demonstrated by “The White Mountains.” Besides the actual sound of the record, the main difference is lyrics. The band takes obvious and extremely blunt shots at booking agents and record labels in “Badd Beat” and “Shadow of the Colossus.” Old school fans will appreciate the irony in lines like “We got your contracts, we got your art – and you can strum as fast as you like.” Gatsbys American Dream has returned with a swagger on a quest for musical integrity, and they achieve that message on this record. The band attacks just about everybody they’ve ever been wronged by, claiming that “we’re all just the bottom line.” It’s not about the music – it’s about the money.

This release sounds vastly different than other Gatsbys releases. Coupled with the raw sound are alternating vocals, which provides variety as well as makes songs more memorable. Bobby and Kirk both have great voices as well as Nic. The keyboard parts, while awkwardly placed in a few songs, add a brand new dynamic to the band and allow their sound to be more expansive than ever. The song writing is faster than anything the band has done since 2002’s Why We Fight. That being said, this album is still very distinctly Gatsbys American Dream. The instrumentation is unbelievable. Ripping guitar parts and technical tempo changes permeate multiple songs, jaw-dropping drum parts are prevalent, and dancing bass lines make this the most fun Gatsbys album to date. If you loved “A Mind of Metal and Wheels” on Volcano, then you will fall in love with about 8 other songs on this record. 

The band also continues to make allusions to previous records. “Filthy Beasts” refers back to the Lost Monsters EP with references to dinosaurs while containing the catchiest chorus of the album. This record does contain multiple choruses, but the presentation of them isn’t like other bands. The verses are so greatly varied that the choruses are more like reoccurring themes instead. That being said, this is probably the most predictable Gatsbys album to date. But, there are still songs like “Margaritas and Cock” and “My Name is Ozymandias” remain unpredictable and change direction time and time again.

The album finishes with “The White Mountains,” which speaks of how music is the one thing that we have in our lives that can remain pure, it’s an art form that should be untouched – yet people still try to change it. The White Mountain is a utopia in which the band can retreat to and make “the music that we breathe.” It’s a fitting end to a record that calls out every single person who has ever wronged them and tried to change who they are.

Gatsbys American Dream has recreated their sound once again for an outstanding album. There are a few flaws with this record, but they are insignificant. The keyboard parts are awkwardly placed and mixed at times. The production is mostly raw, but the drum parts have far too much glisten and gleam to them to fit with the rest of the production. “Station 5: The Pearl” has a somewhat annoying chorus. Then again, picking flaws in a Gatsbys American Dream album is like picking out flaws in a diamond. This is one of the strongest records of the year, lyrically and musically. This album does take longer to understand and get into than the band’s other work. People may be put off by the message and sound, but once you get over the transition, it is sweet. After all, this is Gatsbys American Dream, and they’re going to make the music that they want. Don’t try and change it, or you might end up in one of the band’s next songs.

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