Gaytheist are nothing if not a eye-catching band. Their name - a portmanteau of 'gay' and 'atheist' - will undoubtedly set perceptions of the trio before the needle has even dropped. Hold Me… But Not So Tight's artwork portrays two stylised, embracing reptiles, the band's name superimposed in strong capitals. Song titles such as 'Poocano' or 'Wisdom of the Asshole' makes you wonder if this record isn't just a free supplement with the latest Brazzers discharge. In any case, upon listening, Gaytheist's fourth release is a enjoyable, raucous yet annoyingly fractured turn from Oregon's brashest boys.
Opening track 'Starring in "The Idiot"' establishes the general boundaries of the sound Gaytheist purvey. Driving, riffy- but, crucially, not memorable enough to be True Riffs- guitar playing by Jason Rivera (also vocalist), the jumpy bass of Tim Hoff and the surprisingly intricate percussion of Nick Parks. Musically, there are shades but not outright tributes to the influences they cite. While it may not be an entirely idiosyncratic style, it certainly has some of that Jesus Lizard edgy catchiness, those Faith No More flourishes, those Kyuss sludges. That said, it's much harder to pin an exact influence on Jason Rivera's singing, landing somewhere between Tiger Army and Foo Fighters - as in strangely tense strained singing. His lyrics further back up that aspect, with the opening track professing Rivera's alienation from couples, as stuck out as his natty dress sense.
His angst isn't the only fuel for the lyrics. Songs like 'Poocano' give off such particular sentiments, in such an pseudo-immature way that is seems reminiscent ofPissed Jeans in its pettiness, with less of the fury of gay punk contemporaries such as Limp Wrist. All too often Rivera's lyrics are better than the instrumentals they're applied to.
It suggests that he's spent so much time honing his lyrics that, say, the lazy introductory lurch of 'Into The Trap', the nondescript chugging of '60 Easy Payments' or the token jabs of 'The Restoration', would've been crafted into better songs by a dedicated guitarist. For shame, seeing as the rhythm section is so strong, particularly Parks, that you could lump witch house, mournful country or chart pop on it and it'd still emerge with a sexy groove. The intro of 'MANhattan', for instance, is a massively fun, catchy bass section and the track benefits from being based on it. Rivera's voice flows over the pulsating strings, it becomes tiresome when his muddy guitar imposes itself over these novel moments. Much of the same can be said for 'Spread 'Em'. Perhaps it's not so much the tone, but the way in which it interacts with the vocals. The guitars are certainly downtempo, which really seems to beg for the stoned vocals of Josh Homme or the gutter fury of Mike Williams, not necessarily the the perennially upbeat Rivera.
In any case, for it's strengths, this is an upbeat, engaging listen, fusing its influences in such a way to be an exciting proposition in modern rock music. Hell, play this record at your boss' barbecue- just don't divulge the name/lyrical content/anything beyond the horns-inducing tunes. However, for thie influences it cites, and the talent which is on show in Rivera's vocals and the efforts of Hoff and Parks, there's still a way to go before anyone will really want to hold onto them- tightly or not.