The late noughteenies’ love-in with the early 90s continues with a gawky, under-powered collection of grunge-pop by SOAR. At the outset of the 90s, America was moving towards the temporary end of Republican domination of the White House. George Bush, "the wimp," was trying to prove that the country could still win wars, the nihilism of the corporate 80s had crossed over into the independent music community and everything, it seemed, was shallow and shit.

As so often, a miserable outlook bore rich fruit which our own generation - right wing resurgence not withstanding - is currently happy to ape.

Grunge encouraged us to wire-brush-away the surface of our music. It didn’t care if what was revealed was damaged and bleeding – better that than a pointless, unblemished cipher. There's certainly very little surface glitz to SOAR. Unfortunately there’s also precious little to recommend dark / gold beyond a handful of trite melodies and the charming DIY gumption it displays in its messy pop, including opener 'Fort Funston'.

There are occasional flashes of inspiration. 'Speakwrite' wraps the listener in a cloak of feedback, breaking the generally jaunty flow of the record and introducing something more thoughtful. The production is workmanlike, the delivery is a little cute, but suggestive of the same vogue as the recent Girlpool record, which ploughed a similarly sparse furrow. This is less shouty, but also less poetic.

'Old Dogs', which should be the centrepiece, doesn't deliver the bite it needs to in its pay off. It’s a consistent problem. When the band needs to open out and shock the listener to attention, it tootles along instead. Neither enough bark, nor bite.

If the album lacks in originality, it delivers more satisfactorily in ominousness (if that's a word). Like a culty family unit locked away in suburbia, the record develops its own inner logic and rhythm, somewhat at odds with the outside world. There's promise in tracks like 'In The Bed', which recalls The Cranberries. There's never a full tip over into true weirdness, but the trance-like vocals provide some nice moments, and a braver lead guitar sound would push this into more exciting territory.

In the end, dark / gold falls between two stools. When it's fast and loose, with choruses of nervy vocals, it's very nearly superb. At other times it seems content to pass without landing a punch. The 90s colour pallet is rigid. Sometimes that's a good thing. More often, you'd appreciate a longer menu.