Gone Gatsby, the fourteen song third release from San Antonio alternative rockers The Sound of Curves, finds the band still reliant on their unmistakable mix of vibrant guitar work, dynamics, and vocal harmonies, but also sees them taking more risks than ever before. These risks never run the chance of taking them off course from their customary focus, but instead, it makes those elements stick longer and run deeper in the listener’s consciousness. The album runs too long, there’s easily three or four songs they could have shaved off the track listing without diluting the album’s final affect, but even the excess material isn’t distinguished by subpar musicianship, energy, or vocals. The band is overreaching with such an enormous collection but, while we may not be able to praise such an overreach, longtime music fans will be hard put to find fault with their ambition.
The ambition is evident from the beginning. Songs like “Galaxy” bring electronic music to the fore as added color for the band’s predominantly guitar oriented approach and it’s quite a good match, but bringing great vocal harmonies together seals the deal. Other songs like the title track are much more in an alternative rock vein, eschewing the electronica influencing other tunes, and this example in particular works as a spectacular call to arms begging for an airing in front of live audiences. Lead guitarist Aaron Montano-Teague deserves just as much mention for the musicality of his lead work as the twin singers Leonel Pompa and Roger Mahrer, but Montano-Teague also brings a jagged attitude-driven edge that takes these songs from the realm of pure alternative rock into something much more passionate, much more on the edge. “Summer Radio”, as its title might imply, is pure pop guitar rock energy and hinges, in part, on the vocal melodies to reach its potential. The chorus is particularly effective and will stick in listener’s minds long after the song has ended.
The elegiac melodic beauty of “Josephine” stands out, even on this collection, because it is so clearly conceived. The band clearly realized they had something a little more special than average with this track as evidenced by the differences in its arranging style from the other material and the surprising variations they’re able to wring from the melody. It also elicits very passionate vocals from both Pompa and Mahrer as further evidence of their inspiration. “London” is one of the album’s best unexpected rockers, at least initially, until the verses come in and they adopt a sort of art alternative rock texture that’s steps high and has a decidedly positive tone. “Waves” has a sort of quasi-U2 sound and the band handles that sort of airy grandeur with unexpected sophistication, taking their typical balance of light and shadow and imbuing it with powerful inspiration. The album’s final high point comes with “The Road” – unlike the usual song in this vein, The Sound of Curves subverts listener’s probable expectations with a healthy dose of electronica and an unusual arrangement that doesn’t follow the usual parameters. There’s a little bit of everything here for listeners. Longtime fans of The Sound of Curves will undoubtedly find much here that’s familiar, but it’s clear that the band is attempting to push themselves into new areas and succeeding.
8 out of 10 stars