[sic] Magazine

Gauntlet Hair – Gauntlet Hair

Having let fly the woozy goodness of Sun Airway ‘s debut earlier this year and hot on the heels of Nurses ‘ sun-tastic Dracula , Dead Oceans now continue their run of likeable pop experimentation with Gauntlet Hair .

Denver residents Andy R and Craig Nice thus find themselves part of the same scene as retro electro botherers Pictureplane , as well as with the more enigmatic drifting of Woodsman . Yet, mainly thanks to the duo’s languid, mesmeric calling card “Top Bunk”, Gauntlet Hair are about to graduate top of their class, and you wouldn’t put acing the subsequent party with their infectious jams past the pair neither.

It’s a track that, sadly, the rest of the self-titled debut doesn’t quite live up to, but that’s not to say it’s without merit. The opener, “Keep Time”, for example, gets the obvious comparisons to Animal Collective off the mark quickly, combining a healthy dose of oddball pop with plenty of high-register vocal echo. Its synthetic claps and thin guitar lines are just a bonus – so too its surging pop noise that, quite rightly, has elsewhere been called colourful. Hitting the listener square between the eyes, they seem to evoke all the rainbow has to offer in swimming clarity.

Very much following the same trajectory, compressed drum patterns hiss and crack their way through “Mop It Up”. The overlong “My Christ”, however, can’t work out if it wants to be some sort of jangly 80s indie or a tribute to Simple Minds , so, instead, it decides to be neither and sticks another early Noah Lennox record on.

Working the darker sound palette more effectively, “Lights Out” pairs its low-in-the-mix graunches with intricate guitar echoes and flighty vocal spirals, closing defiantly with overloaded bass that covers the track in fuzz. “Showing” and “Shout In Tongues” are a touch too intangible in such company, but thankfully the sub-two-minute “Overkill” refocuses the majority of the tale order, heading Gauntlet Hair back towards the profitable intersection of rough-edged and flamboyant.

Advised downloads: “Top Bunk” and “Keep Time”.

~Gauntlet Hair is released October 17th 2011 on Dead Oceans .~

Gauntlet Hair @ myspace