Male Gaze – King Leer (Castle Face)

male-gaze-kingI was excited by last year’s all too short debut mini-LP by Male Gaze, which combined dark post-punk with garage psych. On their new album, they don’t sound so much inspired by the Chameleons and Blue Orchids as much as they do more contemporary, poppy post-punk like Franz Ferdinand and The Strokes. I’m not complaining though. Even with their most melodic songs, like “Ranessa” and “Stupid Heart,” they keep the edges roughed up with a loose, garage punk feel. The album is anchored in the beginning (“Got It Bad”), middle (“Easy To Void”) and end (“This Is It”) by muscular numbers with Matt Jones’ distinctive baritone and guitars in overdrive The biggest departure is the languid, acoustic “Green Flash.” They took a risk, and while it might not be a highlight, they pull it off by demonstrating the kind of heart and soul that made Royal Headache’s High so convincing last year. Like High, it’s a short album, but it’s packed tight with great songs, as “Lesser Demons” and “Bad Omens” offer additional hooky highlights, the latter even dabbling in some jangle pop. Despite displaying what I believe is massive potential from their first single, the band seems to be coasting somewhat under the radar, even for being on an indie (Castle Face) label. Whether they decide to do some proper touring, or it remains an obscure side project, few bands will match the consistency of King Leer this year.

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