Saturday, May 25, 2013
Album Review :: Big Deal - June Gloom
June 4 2013 (Mute)
Words: Dave Beech
Following in the vein of various boy/girl combos such as The White Stripes and The Kills are London's modestly named Big Deal. Made up of duo, Alice Costelloe and Kacey Underwood, the band released their début album 'Lights Out' in 2011 to generally favourable responses and now, two years later, the 'anti-twee' troubadours are back with an expanded array of instruments at their disposal. While 'Lights Out' featured just two guitars (one acoustic, one electric), forthcoming sophomore effort 'June Gloom' sees the inclusion of a drummer and a bassist that ultimately fleshes out the overall sound as the band.
Having been produced by Rory Atwell of Palma Violets and Veronica Falls fame, it's easy to lump 'June Gloom' in with all manner of twee comparisons and on the surface they're true. Particularly the tracks featured on the first half of the album, such as 'In Your Car' which could quite easily have been lifted from the aforementioned Veronica Falls most recent album 'Waiting for Something to Happen'. However there's a much more pronounced undercurrent that runs through 'June Gloom'. It's not quite melancholy, more a sense of emotional indifference like that harboured by the alternative bands of the 1990s.
That isn't to say that their aren't moments of optimism found across the course of 12 tracks, 'Swapping Spit' in particular is as uplifting and full-sounding as Big Deal get, though the ever-present almost-apathy in the delivery of the lines on the part of both Costelloe and Underwood is still as prominent as ever. That said, without it the aesthetic created by 'June Gloom' would lack considerably. A further highlight is sample track, leaked last year, 'Teradactol', which features eviscerating riffs, rolling drums and enough reverb to make The Joy Formidable sweat, a far cry from the stripped down acoustic duality of their début. Interestingly enough, the heaviest song on the record is positioned next to perhaps the lightest. 'Pristine' is a slow a melodic affair that features ethereal backing vocals that see themselves offset by the rough of Underwood's voice.
Going off the back of 2011's 'Lights Out' might well lead people to dismiss this fantastic second outing far too early. The expansion of sounds at the bands disposal has allowed them to create an album that's harder hitting and more diverse than their debut. Various different moods perpetuate 'June Gloom' however all are underpinned by a distinct sense of stoicism; there's something behind these twelve tracks that swells beneath an 'anti-twee' veneer, something that neither Costello, nor Underwood want to bear to the world, at least just not yet. If dream-pop is in itself a genre, then 'June Gloom' is it's rebellious older sibling. Not quite a nightmare yet, but threatening to go that way once adolescence rears its ugly head. Brilliant stuff.