ALBUM REVIEW: New Gum Sarn – New Gold Mountain

Rating7.5a0860184929_10The Auckland quartet have made an auspicious start to their recording career, signing to Spunk who are releasing their debut album across Australia and New Zealand. They’re one of many acts currently making waves with a 90s flavoured sound yet theirs is a blend of influences that makes it hard to pin them down as recyclers of any one band’s sound. That is of course a huge plus among the saturated onslaught and immediate availability of new music where the market is crowded with generic copyists. New Gum Sarn pull you in from different angles, keep you guessing and lead you down a myriad of fascinating musical paths.

Television, Pavement, African psychedelia, post rock and woozy melancholic indie rock all get a look-in across the album’s nine songs with rhythm being the common factor to most of them. There is little loose flailing of guitar strings as they construct tight pieces of music, from the bendy elasticity of ‘Bad Soy’, to the sparkling post rock and time changes of ‘Money Talks’ and the dramatic slow burn of ‘Blue Flag’. The music in all reality does most of the talking. The vocals aren’t redundant but they do serve to add melody and emotion more than important lyrical themes and stories. The exception is the Velvet Underground circa ‘Sweet Jane’ vibe of the closing track ‘Saigon- Paris’ with its lazy, drawled vocals and chugging garage rock guitar that blossom into a call and response chant with an earworm of a chorus in ” Baby come over, come and sleep inside of my bed…”

Barely 30 minutes of music make up New Gold Mountain yet it feels like a complete album, such is its sonic range and abundance of textural variation. On the right side of clever it still retains the understated carefree vibe that gives the album its heady and relaxed flow. At the same it’s a tight collection of intelligent songs that visit the same polymorphic territory of prime Talking Heads.

Chris Familton

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