Reviews Gateway District Old Wild Hearts

Gateway District

Old Wild Hearts

“We’re going to break you down this Saturday night,” sings The Gateway District in “Break You Down,” off their new LP, Old Wild Hearts. It’s as fitting a place to start as any. The band has a working for the weekend vibe to them, celebrating the good times and letting your Saturday nights roll. On their third LP, the transition continues from earlier works. For a band that started as a one-off 7”, they’ve now hit stride and found their voice. Where earlier records approached the songs as separate songwriter voices, the group has unified, with Maren Macosko (Soviettes) taking on a predominant lead vocalist position and second singer Carrie Bleser now offering more harmonies and one-off verses than entire songs (though she still has her share). 

Similarly, the songs feel more cohesive from one to the next. The punk burner followed by mid-tempo jam followed by countrified pattern of their first album, Some Days You Get the Thunder, is gone, replaced with a uniform feel from the opening of “Go Home” to the last notes of “Old Wild Hearts.” Now that the band has settled, the sound is a strong pop influence that clashes with mid-tempo, guitar-heavy punk. The pop seeps into memorable choruses, and also in the backing vocal structures in songs like “The Cut” and “You Always Let Me Down,” one of the record’s standouts. It has a bounce to its step, well accentuated by the vocal trade-offs that keep the energy flowing while the chords get a bit repetitive. Bleser’s peppy voice is a strong counter to Macosko’s more emotive tone and it builds a rounded song with a driving bounce that well exemplifies the band’s strengths. I made a Go-Go’s reference with Perfect’s Gonna Fail and I’ll stand by it yet today, though The Gateway District is far less saccharine. Instead, the tone is pragmatic but optimistic—it’s down on the world, but not down at the world—ending the record with “We try to be mighty,” and keeping that positive tenor about the future. Even a song like opener “Go Home,” has a positive feel, despite the subject matter of a broken relationship.

Old Wild Hearts is less driving and forceful that Some Days You Get the Thunder and, progressively, Perfect’s Gonna Fail after it. The band is a bit more calm and focused, and it’s a different listening experience, instead driven by strong lead guitars, as in “Break You Down,” and crafted songwriting that falls takes the poppy base of The Soviettes and gives a tempered, personal feel to the music.

7.0 / 10Loren
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