Dead Gaze - Dead Gaze
I wonder what this album would have sounded like had R. Cole Furlow gone with a more muscular sound. Don't get me wrong - it's very good as is - but his debut as Dead Gaze would sound very different if it was more fleshed-out in the production department, because it's comprised of huge-sounding songs that are straining to be set free, and comes across as a rather overpowering record, quite harsh in its execution and overall sound, taking both sides of the noise-pop sub-genre (that is, the 'noise' and the 'pop') and taking them both to extremes. Furlow came to my attention with the absolutely brilliant 'I Found the Ending' a little while ago, and after wearing it out, I was greeted with the news that there was an album on the horizon, one that takes that song and tucks it away towards the back end of an album that brings together other singles, as well as new material. Some may see that song as his safety net, but it's just one example of the brilliance on display over these 12 tracks.
Had Furlow just chucked the songs on with no thought to the overall structure of the record, its effect would have been greatly diminished, but it has a great flow, and the fact that he managed to do that with a clutch of singles and a handful of brand new material is quite telling - just wait until he's let loose to create an album from scratch. There are plenty of sublime moments over the course of Dead Gaze, and despite the over-reliance on treble and near-complete lack of low-end (both of which make the overall sound of the album an acquired taste), one just can't argue with the scuzzy riffage contained on 'There's a Time to Be Stupid', or the surging power-pop of opener 'Remember What Brought Us Here', a song which contains a hook almost too big for the song to handle.
The album is essentially an all-consuming slab of noise with no spit-and-polish job in sight. It's raw as hell, and its creator wouldn't have it any other way. Furlow's voice is sometimes completely drowned out by the cacophony that surrounds him, but his songwriting skills are such that the album is able to get by on the strength of its riffs and choruses alone. There's even a surprisingly laid-back sounding moment on 'Future Loves and Sing Abouts', Furlow's distorted vocals joining in with ghostly choirs and jagged-sounding acoustic guitar, the kind of song that stops the listener in their tracks and forces them to ask, 'wow, where did that come from?!' As straightforward and gloriously unvarnished as his first full-length is, there's no way of knowing what he'll do next as Dead Gaze throws up enough possibilities and raises enough questions that the nature of future music becomes irrelevant; the mere fact that this is but the opening chapter is enough to make the most patient of souls froth at the mouth in anticipation of the follow-up.