Ah, the ever-elusive “perfect summer record.” Every year, every time spring gives way to blistering heat, the search for the next best soundtrack to summer recommences.
This summer, Chicago-by-way-of-Los Angeles quintet Gold Motel is making a strong stand for the title, at least in the pop category. The band’s 12-track, self-titled sophomore release surges with pretty girl-boy harmonies and vintage reverb effects, and yet, it’s all grounded with an indie practicality.
Singer/keyboardist Greta Morgan originally conceived Gold Motel as a solo project after her previous band The Hush Sound went on hiatus in 2009. What resulted, however, was an amalgamation of other Chicago musicians from other bands, with Dan Duszynski (guitar, vocals), Matt “Minx” Schuessler (bass) and Adam Coldhouse (drums) from This Is Me Smiling, as well as Eric Hehr (guitar) from The Yearbooks joining her on the band’s 2010’s debut, Summer House.
Now as a cohesive unit, Gold Motel has nearly perfected the art of bright, nostalgic pop songs. Morgan’s vocals ring clear and unpretentious as she and the boys tell stories about busking in subway stations (“Musicians”), staying in Southern California (“Santa Cruz”) and hanging on to youth and love (the excellent closer “Leave You In Love”). Even if some tracks delve into surprisingly darker subject matter (such as opener “Brand New Kind of Blue,” which was inspired by a book on near-death experiences), the album as a whole still exudes a gold-sheened summery glow.
Overall, Gold Motel stands out as a non-guilty pop pleasure that will leave hip listeners singing, dancing and apologizing, “Sorry, I’m not sorry.”