Big Deal: June Gloom
Mute Records

Straight up: Big Deal's music isn't the kind typically reviewed in textura, but the band's sophomore effort, June Gloom, wouldn't be denied. In clothing melodic pop in a guitar-generated wall-of-sound, the London-based duo of Kacey Underwood and Alice Costelloe follow in the glorious tradition of The Pixies and Nirvana. Theirs is a potent combination that receives a fabulous workout on this twelve-track outing.

On a typical Big Deal song, the duo's clear-throated voices pair up while guitars, bass, and drums generate molten heat behind them. The songs are so melodically strong, however, that if one were to strip them down to their skeletons, they'd still hold up. Gorgeous pop hooks are plentiful, so much so that a soaring song such as “Catch Up” will get you as high as any drug.

Don't be fooled by the plaintive opening seconds of “Golden Light,” which gradually moves beyond its guitar strums and a signature vocal pairing by Underwood and Costelloe into a rousing episode of dreampop euphoria. That opening salvo sets the stage for the anthemic “Swapping Spit,” “In Your Car,” and “Dream Machines,” intoxicating songs whose chiming guitar crush will have you wanting to roar down open highways in a convertible with the music blasting. Producer Rory Attwell deserves some degree of credit for capturing the group's sound on record without diluting its power.

While the album includes blistering cuts (e.g., the raging “Teradactol”), it includes comparatively quieter ones, too, such as “Call and I'll Come” and “Little Dipper” that lose none of their power for being restrained. Seven songs in, “Pristine” offers a temporary shelter from the storm, with Underwood on lead vocals and an acoustic guitar appearing alongside Costelloe's wordless coo. The two worlds come together beautifully in the closing song, “Close Your Eyes,” which begins in a heartbreakingly tender mode (“I won't ask why / If it was love/ We let it die / You have been blind / To what's inside / Was I on your mind”) before exploding for a magnificent coda—an incredible moment on an equally incredible album.

July 2013