By Zachary Swickey
It’s easy to get lost in the slew of new, digitally-tinged indie bands that offer little beyond what MGMT already created four years ago. Oversaturation of a genre can cause some bands to get lost in the mix, which is a shame when the band is great. Case in point: Solid Gold, who concoct some of the most original, experimental synth pop sounds whole music world has to offer.
Solid Gold was formed ten years ago by a trio of friends at the University of Wisconsin. After a migration to equally chilly Minneapolis, Minn., and some lineup adjustments, Solid Gold finally began shaping their psychedelic persona. Originally sticking to a drum machine for percussive duties, the group eventually enlisted a real drummer, and added a slide guitarist for a little something extra to expand their sound.
The band released their debut album, Bodies of Water, in the fall of 2008 and received some much-deserved buzz. The effort is a brilliant amalgam of ‘80s-like synth sounds, though that is a rather limited way to describe the array of influences contained. “Those Who Go” has the digital deliciousness of a club banger, while “Synchronize” contains a seriously catchy low-end warble that all but forces one to groove. Despite themes like heartbreak and escape, it’s a rather danceable album. “Who You Gonna Run To?” bears a self-explanatory title, and I have a feeling most people have an ex they would gladly dedicate the tune to.
The great thing about Bodies of Water is how cohesive the album sounds, while being schizophrenic in its sonic nature. Examples are aplenty: “New Kanada” offers an unexpected slick banjo sample throughout; “Neon Rose” is a wildly awesome (and well-executed) Mariachi-inspired song; and my personal favorite, “Just Like Everyone Else” contains mesmerizing strings and relaxed tickling of the ivories that contrast against the angry, biting lyrics.
In 2010, Solid Gold released a new EP, Synchronize, which included tracks like “Sharpshooter” and “One in a Million,” which builds in an epic fashion around a lackadaisical piano chord. Also included is a “Top Gun” soundtrack cover song, Kenny Loggins’ “Danger Zone.” That may seem like a cliché track to cover, but Solid Gold does it in an earnest fashion.
For a band that’s been around ten years, Solid Gold doesn’t have a hefty back catalog of music, but the album and EP they have released are clearly meticulous labors of love. The band claims to have scrapped two entire albums over the course of their history, which can help explain the sparse releases. They are currently working on their sophomore album with a late 2011 release expected.
I was lucky enough to see them perform a batch of new tunes live recently, and one song was notably much louder and aggressive than their previous efforts (in the best way possible). Having heard these new tunes, I predict this new effort from them could be my “Album of the Year.” Their debut would have been my number one of 2008 … if I had only been aware of it.