The story behind the title of Gospel Claws’ second album, ‘Put Your Sunshine Away’, may be partially informed by frontman’s Joel Marquard’s ultimately successful battle with testicular cancer. Top marks for black humour, though, as the Arizona-based band apologise that their second album may sound less “ballsy” than their first. This claim seems rather modest too, since the record is bursting with a very masculine form of exuberance.
It’s natural that when we listen to a record for the first time we look for reference points. Based on opening track ‘Pale Horse Dry Cleaning’, there’s a strong resemblance to those other purveyors of bruised, drunken Americana, The Walkmen, although the echo effects and shimmering production points equally to ghostly dreampoppers Deerhunter. On a less deeper level, the likes of ‘I Want It All’ and ‘I Move Around’ are disarmingly simplistic versions of rock and roll. A similar path continues for the next few songs; ‘I Can, I Will’ standing out for its defiant, if slightly haunted, chorus whereas ‘Anything I Can Do’ witnesses Marquard croon his way through with an admirable lack of self-awareness. Yet the real ace in the pack is an impassioned anthem named ‘Hambone’ which sends shivers down the spine as soon as the first chorus kicks in. It’s a truly excellent track that makes a mockery of its modest title.
‘Put Your Sunshine Away’ could be viewed in a number of ways. On the surface, it’s a rock and roll pastiche albeit with modern production values but peer beneath the boisterous noise and there are poignant tales of doomed romance waiting to be discovered.
The Walkmen, Deerhunter