‘Remember What Brought Us Here’ comes bolting out of the speakers with buzzes and hisses and the sound of synths bubbling underneath. Pretty soon a loping drum beat comes in and Cole Furlow’s vocals come in swathed in some of that lo fi goodness that so many kids love these days. Dead Gaze sounds like Grandaddy turned up to 11. Sonics busting at the seams, churning in a pool of static and melancholy. It’s a catchy noise, as if Dinosaur Jr and Dent May decided to collaborate on some drunken Friday night.
Dead Gaze is Cole Furlow’s pet project that he recently turned into a real band, with real people that play with him. But for the studio only Furlow’s imagination and penchant for frayed-at-the-end pop hooks are needed. ‘You’ll Carry On Real Nice’ is a pop rock stomper that Teenage Fanclub might’ve recorded way back when, with Ty Segall covering it inside a giant coffee can. ‘This Big World’ sounds like ELO, The Pixies, and a dirty tape head had a head-on collision inside Lou Barlow’s skull. Bleach-era Nirvana might’ve liked this song, too. ‘Future Loves and Sing Abouts’ once again has that recorded-in-a-can vocal thing happening, with the music being a cross between Panda Bear and Yuck. ‘Glory Days For Sure’ is damn near jarring. After so much analog-y fuzz and slight disorientation comes this cleaned-up, Cure-ish track that sounds like it was transported from another time and mixtape. It’s light synth textures and slapback-echoed drums gives the track a dreamy quality. It’s a very cool track and a sound Furlow should revisit more often. I was reminded of the great Icelandic band Tilbuy as I sat listening intently. But soon enough, ‘Back and Forth’ return us to the gritty pop goodness that permeates this album.
Cole Furlow, like other fractured pop purveyors of the past(Jason Lytle and Mark Linkous come to mind) when push comes to shove is a pop songwriter. He would’ve fit just right in the Elephant Six Collective back in the early 90s. But giving that it’s 2013, he’s taking those great pop songs that are falling out of his head and lathering them up with a bit of lo fi, gritty garage rock goodness. ‘Take Me Home or I Die Alone’ sounds like The Polyphonic Spree without the caffeine and slick production. It’s pop music’s reflection in a dirty mirror. ‘Fishing With Robert’ is the kind of song that once you hear it you wish you had written it. Who’s Robert? Pollard? Smith? Redford? Who knows, but I want on that boat.
Dead Gaze is a great and scuzzy little band from Mississippi. Dead Gaze is a great and scuzzy little album, filled with enough pop nuggets and lo fi goodness to make fans of Guided By Voices, Sebadoh, and Dr. Dog alike giddy with delight. Add Grandaddy, Yuck, and Dent May to the mix and you have something reminiscent of something else. Familiar, yet new.
Broken? No, just broken in.
7 out of 10