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Geese continue searching for a signature sound with 3D Country

"3D Country"

Release date: 23 June 2023
Geese - 3D Country cover
20 June 2023, 09:00 Written by Will Yarbrough

Geese are a quick study.

Perhaps too quick. Signing to Partisan Records straight out of high school surpassed even the band's own lofty ambitions, but plenty of bloggers remained sceptical. Sure, these five wunderkinder could recite every guitar part on Marquee Moon. But could they come up with any moves of their own?

3D Country offers more questions than answers. Instead of simply fine-tuning the interlocking riffs that recalled a certain other NYC buzz band, Geese do everything they can to avoid comparison, venturing into cosmic country, electro-funk and apocalyptic boogaloo with reckless abandon. There's never a dull moment. But weirdly enough, they end up taking another well-traveled – albeit, more perilous – road on the journey to rock 'n' roll stardom: the "difficult" second album.

Whether you get behind 3D Country depends an awful lot on Cameron Winter's vocals. Though never the main focus, Winter's baritone groan complimented the drizzly post-punk aesthetic that Geese projected on their debut. This album thrusts Winter front and centre, and boy, he does not shy away from the spotlight. "God of the sun, I'm taking you down on the inside!" That's the opening line on 3D Country and it's delivered with the statuesque, tonsil-warbling bravado of Berlin-period Bowie. But the histrionics don't stop there. Winter psychobabbles like David Bryne about "Voodoo Balarama Baba Yaga". He wiggles his hips at the God of Death as if Mick Jagger were leading a Zumba class. And that only covers the opening song.

"I See Myself" actually takes a good hack at Jeff Buckley's falsetto, but the cosplay wears so thin that even Winter wants to snap out of it. "Hit me, motherfucker", he jeers on the title track. That he's backed by a gospel choir makes it tough to take him seriously. Still, there is some method to this madness. Geese have had their beak in the classic rock cannon since grade school, back when they were still trying to sound like Yes crossed with Radiohead. For 3D Country, the band wanted to filter those sounds from the past through their present-day concerns for the future. It comes out in the form of a muddled tale about some throat-slitting cowboy who travels through time after one too many sips of the devil's moonshine, but 3D Country is inspired by how we're supposed to go on living in the shadow of war machines and climate change.

To bring that vision to life, Geese tabbed superproducer James Ford, who was behind the boards when Arctic Monkeys and pesky innovators Mumford & Sons made their left turns. 3D Country does best when it sticks to the same lane of roadhouse blues that the Stones perfected with Exile on Main Street. But while the slight detour into jazz lounge balladeering brings out Winter's most vividly tender lyrics on "Domoto", not every song needs violin, viola, cello and saloon piano.

3D Country follows this blueprint, nailing one good idea for every two miscues. "Cowboy Nudes" came so naturally that the band was scared to tinker with it. They should've trusted their instincts; that guitar lick is as smooth and refreshing as a stream grooving through a canyon, so, of course, it gets interrupted by impromptu bongos. And yet – it's these flights of fancy that lead to higher ground. "Mysterious Love" might be the easiest song to slot onto their old setlist, crashing to life with angular saws of distortion, but it's not until Geese shift gears into pistoning psychedelic power-pop that it truly takes off.

"Love is mysterious, honey", Winter claims à la Leonard Cohen, pausing before the punchline. "I'm working the case". They haven't put all the pieces together, but the evidence suggests that Geese are still capable of laying a golden egg.

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