We Are Undone

Two Gallants

ATO Records, 2015


REVIEW BY: Benjamin Ray


Like David Bowie’s Low or Led Zeppelin III, Two Gallants’ fifth album has two distinct halves, each revealing different sides of the artist. We Are Undone ratchets up the volume and garage blues-rock side of the drum/guitar duo, offering heady, visceral tracks that sizzle with fuzz and grit, but then flips on the second half of the album with more experimental approaches to the sound.

The juxtaposition is organic, offering a fully realized sound that this band hadn’t quite yet achieved. But as is usually the case with these things, the tracks that stray don’t fare as well. Ironically, slower, folk-oriented songs are how Two Gallants made their name, but it’s evident by the overlong ballad “There’s So Much I Don’t Know” and the forgettable “Heartbreakdown” and “Katy Kruelly” that these two have left that approach mostly behind, even if it still colors the songwriting on the rock tracks.my_heart_sings_the_harmony_web_ad_alt_250

Those rock songs, though, are a blast of pure cocky timeless garage rock of the type that every rock band starts with dating back to 1963. “Incidental” offers on the surface a rather upbeat, clearheaded take on the losing end of a breakup, the fat strut of “Fools Like Us” mixes a swift blues-rock approach with a Beatles chorus and the title cut is all Black Keys-inspired overdrive blues murk. A sluggish two-step and pounding piano mark the hazy “Invitation To The Funeral,” a song latter-day Oasis would be proud of, while the smoky “Some Trouble” shows Two Gallants aiming for an echelon occupied by Joe Bonamassa and Gary Clark Jr. in modern-day blues rock.

This first half only underscores the dreary second half, which starts with the overly long, tedious “My Man Go” and doesn’t get much better. Long unnecessary introductions clog up some songs, while others make little impression save for “Murder The Season/The Age Nocturne,” which rediscovers the grit of the first side about halfway through the song, albeit with a psychedelic alt-rock twist that could make for an interesting songwriting avenue on the next album. It worked for the Keys’ Turn Blue, anyway.

There isn’t a lot of emotional salvation in the lyrics, which prefer wrung-out emotions to hope and solutions, but that fits the music perfectly. Fans of Two Gallants will no doubt be drawn to the second side for its continuation of past themes, but they – and hopefully newcomers – will see the first side as the next step in the evolution of a duo that changes and adapts on each album. A fine album, if not a great one.

Rating: B-

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