Gauntlet Hair, Stills

Ian Cohen

By Ian Cohen

on 07.16.13 in Reviews
Emphasizing the grooves and dialing down the reverb on their second LP

On their earliest singles, Gauntlet Hair couldn’t decide if they were a noise band playing pop music or vice versa. The Denver duo attempted to find common ground between the platinum kick of INXS and early Animal Collective’s feral caterwaul. While the results weren’t always coherent, you could hear potential in the chaos. Having excised their most abrasive impulses on their 2011 self-titled debut, Stills continues toward a more accessible sound by emphasizing the grooves and dialing down the reverb. It’s still a bit inchoate, as the gated synth snares and coiled guitars of “Heave” and “Simple” try to create stadium-ready funk pop on an Our Band Could Be Your Life budget; meanwhile, the relatively slinky “Bad Apple” and “Habit” scramble goth kohl and New Wave glitter. But even with the cleaner production, Gauntlet Hair favors noise and texture more than hooks, so while Stills gets deeper into the duo’s ’80s fixation, they’re still looking to defile rather than deify.