Barely Dressed/Remote Control
Gold Class’ sophomore album Drum is a sparkling, emotive and dynamic guitar-led piece of modern post punk. The album is conducted by turbulent guitar and unapologetically puts Adam Curley’s baritone vocals out the front to guide the way.
The Gareth Liddiard (The Drones) produced album is full of thumping rhythms and gives us equal parts electro beats and fast paced punk. Drum is at once primitive and perfectly calculated. While the guitar and vocals are delivered with urgency, the album is still incredibly spacious. Perhaps Curley’s harrowing vocals and delivery, with their deep, never ending sound, give the songs a feeling of the abyss, with the distance and constant pulsations having a trance-like effect.
First single Twist In The Dark is the stand out song on the album, offering slightly more peaks and troughs and exploring more emotional range than the other nine songs. Rose Blind is a personal ode to the rose coloured glasses love puts on you, and is full of intensity and colour; it is also home to the strongest lyrics on the album. Get Yours features the most melodic chorus with hooks that sink in suddenly and hold fast; it’ll have you nodding and singing along as soon as the chorus hits and will be stuck in your head well after it finishes.
Songs like Trouble Fun, Bully and We Were Never Too Much prove that Gold Class are not just a one trick pony and are very capable of creating some sweeping, atmospheric and enduring sounds. They also showcase a more understated, raw side to Curley’s vocals, making them perhaps some of the most heartfelt and believable songs on Drum.
It’s hard not to draw a likeness to The Presets and Interpol; imagine the post punk sounds of Interpol with the pounding beats of The Presets and you’re getting close to Drum. Unlike post punk’s predecessors though, Gold Class don’t go into areas of deep, deep despair and anguish. When you expect Drum to come flowing out in fits of uncontrollable rage, rawness and verve, it restrains itself. There is definitely a certain beauty in this, but perhaps it would also have been nice to feel a little bit more inflamed emotion in some of the tracks, be it wayward, imperfect guitar, percussion, or vocal work. At times, the production does feel a little too perfect for the punk ethos, which is strange as Liddiard via The Drones has perfected the transcendence of energy into captured form.
The album is unashamedly post punk, and whilst it does what it does well, it is not anything we have not heard before. This is neither good nor bad – if something is not broke – why fix it? It also must be said that it is refreshing to listen to new Australian alternative music that is straight up and accessible but also equally dark and venomous. Australia has become awash with synth, pedals, reverb and quirky electronics, and it feels so, so great to listen to such an honest and human album that brings it back to the basics. The album hones in on a sound that was at its peak 10 or 15 years ago, so you can’t help but give Gold Class extra kudos for doing their own thing, regardless of what’s in vogue.
Drum covers wide-ranging themes including identity, place, loss and love. Curley has noted the album is an anthem for the outsiders and the oppressed, which is extremely fitting given the socio and political environment of today and ties into its alt roots nicely. Despite all this, you can’t help but get to the end of a song on Drum just feeling like you could have been given more. While the musical components at times meander away from each other and then come smashing back together, it never quite spills over in the collision. Perhaps it’s the constraint, or perhaps it’s the perfect production and the precise calculation of every sound which sees it, at times, lacking the raw edge that could have lifted it into truly ‘great’ album territory.