It isn’t called “the difficult second album” without reason. For most bands, the debut is a labour of love, and a final realisation of songs that may have been knocking around since those crusty teenage garage sessions. It does well, but then suddenly the label needs a follow-up. The pressure builds, time and money gets short. Some bands crack and fail to step up, while others move forward and grow from that first heady release.
Such Gold‘s ‘Misadventures’ was a blunt pop-punk record; unspectacular, but fast and forceful. Its follow-up ‘The New Sidewalk’ is a textured and complex record by comparison, showing technical nuance and a greater emphasis on melody that permeates every track.
‘The New Sidewalk’ feels like a second album. Each aspect of Such Gold‘s sound – the lyrics, the melody, rhythm and mix – have all bumped up a notch in quality. ‘No Cab Fare’ is a foray into more mature territory, ‘Don’t Park Next To Me’has an excellent swing and sway to it with an infectious chorus, and the closing title-track is big and exploratory with the sinews of pop-punk holding it together.
Frontman Ben Kotin puts in a standout vocal performance, hitting the mark somewhere between the impressive range talents of The Story So Far‘s Parker Cannon and the rougher edge of Circa Survive‘s own Anthony Green. The vocal treatment isn’t quite as polished as can be heard on these bands’ records, but it comes damn close.
It shouldn’t have all come together as well as this. The period between ‘Misadventures’ and ‘The New Sidewalk’ was a tumultuous time indeed, seeing original members Skylar Sarkis and Devan Bentley jump ship. Yet, with their replacements, John Markson and Matt Covey, came tighter, more diverse structures and textures.
There are plateaus; ‘I Know What I Saw’ is meandering, and ‘Morrison’ a boilerplate punk track; but when Such Gold hit their mark, particularly during the closing gambit of ‘When It Gives’, ‘Frying In The Mix’ and ‘The New Sidewalk’, they absolutely smash it. The band won’t be taking home any awards for innovation, but their sunny brand of irked melodic hardcore is a moreish, earworm-peppered treat.
Written by Grant Bailey (@GrantDBailey)