Gold-Bears' second full-length, Dalliance, is a record about regret. It reminds you of that time you lied to your friend when you said you were too busy to hang out, but instead went to the bar alone. Or when you sent that really shitty email to your brother about something that really has no bearing anymore, because you were too caught up in the moment to think clearly. It also reminds you of the time you got divorced... from whatever or whomever.
In the past two years since Gold-Bears released their debut album Are You Falling in Love?, main Bear Jeremy Underwood gathered a new crop of friends to carry out his fuzz-filled visions. Dalliance is more focused and abrasive than that 2011 debut, combining their noise-pop influences from forebears like Boyracer and The Wedding Present with shades of the post-hardcore, emo and post-punk on which the band all cut their musical teeth. This is not to say that Gold-Bears gave up impossibly catchy song-writing, just that their signature indie punk anthems are now even sharper, the guitars even more slashing, and the songs even more harrowing and heartfelt than ever.
Dalliance opens with the anthemic "Yeah, Tonight," a proper pop song featuring a duet between Underwood and Emma Cooper (of the defunct London indiepop band Standard Fare) that sets the agenda right away — sharp melodies and even sharper guitars, all whizzing by in less than three minutes. "Chest" rushes in almost immediately after, barely two and a half minutes of punk energy and fizzing feedback.
"Punk Song No. 15" is as described, a blazing flash that condenses the history of UK noisy pop into just over one minute. "I Hope They're Right" and the lovely, jangling "Hey, Sophie" show how much the band have expanded their range, slowing the pace, turning up the jangle and taking on the big subjects.
Gold-Bears cover a lot of territory, musical and lyrical, in Dalliance's 32 minutes and by the time that we reach the miniature epic of closer "Fathers And Daughters" we realize that we're watching a band and a song-writer hit their stride, turning in an album that's exciting, thoughtful and infectious.