Album artwork can really help set the tone for an album. Providing a visual companion and interpretation to the audio within, it gives the listener an idea of what to expect when they delve into the main work of art. At first glance Bars Of Gold’s new album Shelters (Equal Vision) would set an expectation to the listener that this record would be a soothing record consisting of seaside recordings and other ambience.
Thankfully, the album is so much more than yoga-tinged instrumentals and Bars Of Gold do a stunning job of combining angsty lyrics, Blues Rock-inspired vocals and nostalgic atmosphere.
Sounding like a combination between Southern Rock combined with Hardcore sentiments, Bars Of Gold really carve out a really unique niche with this very contrasting sound – the sound of summer nights combined with the angst of teenage years.
From track to track, different stories are told and, with various melodic motifs echoing throughout all the tracks, it ties the album together very well. The momentum is never lost even though there may be some quieter interludes after some tracks. However, there are some songs that sound interchangeable despite the different lyrical approach, and a couple of tracks being cut could have tightened up the overall sonic layout of the record.
The real standouts on the record are ‘Montana’ and ‘G’. While maintaining the overall sound of summer and angst key to the theme of the record, these songs really experiment within those perimeters without sounding incoherent in comparison with the other tracks. The ideas here feel more fleshed out and compelling.
With Shelters, Bars Of Gold have crafted an album that will cast the listener back to the endless teenage summers spent with friends on the beach. It’s high-energy and angsty but also sentimental and emotional at times – that dynamic is the main strength of the record.
6 / 10