One of the first things that struck me about Goldrush’s new album, The Heart is the Place, is the sentiment in the third track, “Every One of Us.” As might be expected, one of the beautifully breathy Bennett brothers (say that ten times fast) sings that “there must be a place for every one of us.” Nice thought, but it’s not necessarily true, especially in the world of music. Not every band can make it and realistically, most don’t. But I suppose it’s an easy enough remark if you’re Goldrush. Their Oxford bred style of ’90s Britpop may be considered passé, but there’s just something about a group who does something incredibly well. Their name might not be uttered in the same breaths as Coldplay, Doves or even Keane, but I doubt that will last long.
Like their Manchester neighbors, the Doves, Goldrush start off their album with a sweeping building epic intro that leads into the first proper vocal track on the record, “The Story of the City.” There are certainly times during the first few songs that I felt as if I were back in high school listening to my Catherine Wheel records, without any thought in the world that Oasis were an apple in anyone’s eye. What I mean to say is, there’s a sweetness to Goldrush’s sound, a sweetness that seemed to evaporate from British music in the ’90s, replaced by bravado, swagger and obnoxiousness. Goldrush prove their point with the lush “Can’t Give Up the Ghost.” For those who were disappointed with the recent efforts by Coldplay, Keane and Snow Patrol, don’t fear, Goldrush is here with this gorgeous track. Except, instead of singing about his own whiz a la Chris Martin, Goldrush bring British pop back where it should be, in the gutter. “Sometimes I feel like I’m already dead” just seems far more serious than “For you I’d bleed myself dry.”
Although they don’t sound like their Oxford counterparts, Radiohead, there are similarities, such as paranoia about the future (“We Will Not Be Machines”), an impending sense of mortality (“Goodbye Cruel World”) and a hint of romanticism (“The Heart is the Place”). But as opposed to Radiohead’s self-admitted epic `dodginess,’ Goldrush’s songs have a grandiosity that somehow seems important. Think U2 or the Frames in that regard and you’ll come close. Not to mention the fact that they have kind of a Eagles / Burrito Brothers harmonizing vocal country-rock thing going on as well, especially evident in the aforementioned “We Will Not Be Machines.”
The brothers Bennett may not sound like Bono or Thom Yorke, but there is a quality of sweetness to the vocals that can’t be denied. I remember when Massive Attack, Portishead and Björk all started reaching mainstream audiences. I remember that, suddenly, for many rock bands, it must have seemed a lot harder to do what they do. What I mean is, music is always judged in context. There’s no such thing as a vacuum in the world of music criticism. For that reason, many bands that might otherwise be considered decent only come off as knockoffs. Goldrush, however, is an exception to that rule. It’s not that they stack up well against their peers, or even that they have managed to find a vacuum, it’s more that they have found their strengths, entrenched themselves in those strengths, and then made the best of it. The Heart is the Place is an album that both recollects a bygone era and distances itself from most of today’s nonsense.
The Frames- The Cost
Catherine Wheel- Adam and Eve
Doves- The Last Broadcast