Stills is the second album from Chicago duo Gauntlet Hair. Their debut was well received by critics and drew favourable comparisons to Animal Collective for its vocal style and overall artsy noise-pop aesthetic. For the follow-up Craig Nice and Andy Rauworth, after returning to their hometown, found themselves inspired by their youth in the city and the music that soundtracked that time.

Industrial and post-punk styles bring a much darker tone to their music, and the duo stated that they found themselves listening to old albums by the likes Marilyn Manson and White Zombie. The result is, in many ways, the antithesis of their self-titled debut. The spiky, danceable guitars are still present but there is a pervading murkiness to their music.

Their closest comparison now would be 80s indie acts like The Jesus and Mary Chain or post-punk bands like Joy Division. The bass riffs are more prominent; the vocals and guitars are sometimes sparse and atmospheric. The songs on Stills tend to alternate between quiet and loud passages. Opening track 'Human Nature' starts with a simple bass riff and the lead vocalist breathing in time to it, but by the chorus there are droning guitars and Lo-Fi drum machine beats. The second track, 'Spew', follows the pattern with a bass line driving the verses forward before clattering drums and crunchy guitars enter the mix in the chorus. They turn the track from a danceable indie disco song into an abrasive industrial number that calls to mind giant machines.

Unfortunately, this soon wears thin. Almost every song follows this pattern of marrying the music of their debut with this industrial aesthetic and after a few tracks it becomes difficult to distinguish one from another. The problem isn't with being formulaic - that's not really an issue you can find with the album. The problem is that there is nothing, save for three songs in the middle of the album, that leaves you wanting to come back for more. The sounds are interesting; Stills clatters, explodes and drones, but each song ultimately left me feeling numb and at some points the album became something of a chore to get through.

I found myself growing frustrated with Stills, as there is a lot of promise on the record. The opening moment of 'Human Nature' has a certain menace that is sadly lacking in the rest of the album, and the reliance on drum machines on a number of tracks weakens the record. 'Bad Apple', one of the strongest songs on the album is a good example of this. There's a really interesting interplay between the heavily reverberated guitars and the chiming synth lead; both drift in and out of the track almost of their own accord creating a dream like feel that runs throughout the track. A shame both are overwhelmed by a loud, Lo-Fi drumbeat that feels like an afterthought.

Craig and Andy have managed to create an album that almost captures the mood and atmosphere of the records that inspired their youth, but the drum machines break the illusion and make you realise that what you're listening to is just an imitation.