Given their looks, their taste, and the fact that their repertoire includes song titles like ‘Record Store’ and color-bleeding complete-sentence quips like “After sex, I was lying awake in bed with visions of sugar plums dancing around my head” – it’s easy to tell Gold-Bears were probably pretty ecstatic to land themselves within the exclusive pedigree of Slumberland. The Atlanta collective are probably a few years too old to be getting away with their rosy jangle with complete teenaged earnestness, but their nostalgia and the pure idolization offered to the bands they’re imitating is truly palatable.
We’re talking about an album called Are You Falling In Love? for god’s sake – and the band trots out the exact miniature twee you’d expect them to; blending in soft-focus to an even greater degree than label-mates Pains of Being Pure at Heart. Sunbeam guitars, Spartan drums, frantic songs about love and music – all covered in a gentle gauze. The aforementioned ‘Record Store’ rages in the High School age; all clattering guitar jostle while frontman Jeremy Underwood’s life is saved “from the back-door /of a crowded record store.” The 2-minute ‘All Those Years’ follows in similar fashion with saccharine start-stopping chords and a particularly well-placed harmony from Juliet Sy (who, naturally, sounds quite a bit like the Pains’ Peggy Wang.) Save for the faded title-track and the gentle crash-pop of closer ‘Yeah, Tonight,’ all these songs carry a sense of direct immediacy. Pretty sing-a-longs are not saved for a payoff; they’re spread liberally and delectably through every inch of the record’s 30 minutes.
And then it passes, mostly uncontested, like a centering summer breeze. You may play back Are You Falling In Love? to make sure you didn’t miss something lurking beneath the tenderness – but it’s a fool’s errand. The straightforward, undemanding, adorable pomp of Gold-Bears remains basic in its results – built to suit any time and place, its ingredients the essences of wit, whimsy and lover’s soul. It will not encroach your list-making, but it will patiently wait for your return should you decide to take a visit to its glowing world again.