Dawson’s involvement might suggest a desire for slick modernism following the shoe gaze-y swirl of last year’s well reviewed, but somehow sort of insta-forgotten Reign of Terror. It’s unclear that this is a positive correction. The shoegaze thickness of songs like the terrific goth-prom anthem “You Lost Me” was that album’s best aspect. Sweet, thick guitar textures plus memorable pop hooks is a formula that’s all too rare, if you ask me. “Bitter Rivals” starts with a “Faith”-y George Micheals strum and an ill-fitting Dickens quote before blasting your eardums with hyper-compressed, clunky chanting that eventually segues into a legit-sticky R&B chorus. It’s catchy enough, I guess? But it might not be all that good, really? Hopefully they’ve got more interesting tunes lying in wait.
Another instantly successful Brooklyn duo, Cults, is sending an October record our way (on the 15th, to be exact). “High Road” is the second single from their sophomore record Static, following the upbeat firstie “I Can Hardly Make You Mine.” This one’s got a sturdy mid-tempo beat holding up its spaced-out guy/girl vocals. It’s a’ight, I guess? Like, baseline a’ight, but a little too ’07 blog-rock-y to really blow anybody’s hair back? Unless we’ve all been hiding our desire for a Peter Bjorn & John revival and no one has had the guts to mention it?