I saw Fool’s Gold play the Jewlicious festival in Long Beach earlier this year and my review of that went a little something like this: “Jewlicious 7.0 Festival – Fool’s Gold is awesome live.” I was excited to hear how their sophomore album, Leave No Trace (released August 16) measured up to all the greatness I’ve seen them bring live. They did NOT disappoint.
The album started off with the thick, quick dance beat of “The Dive,” a song you could dive right into with your sweet indie shakin’ dance moves. The want-to-ride-the-waves of plucky guitar riffs, bumpin’ bass, and subtle ooo ooohhs were there, too. Singer/bassist Luke Top’s cantorial drawl pushed out the lyrics and it drew me in.
The handclaps, sneaky synths and catchy guitar hook of “Wild Widow” kept it moving atop its funky, thumping drum and bass. The lyrics stood strong: “You have not ruined me, despite your best efforts…” This song reminded me faintly of The Clash during their “Rock the Casbah” era due to the heavy groove but with no politico punk edge. A laser attack of synths shot me right into “Street Clothes” and like the lyrics say, “There’s no holding back!” That’s definitely the case as the synth, saxophone, bass, guitar, vocal yelps and percussion create a fucking bonanza of sound. It makes you quickly forget that they’ve hunkered down to a close-knit musical family of five rather than the original 12-15 member line-up they started out with and as quickly as it swept me up into its chaos, it left me drifting away on a melodic cloud of dreamy synth and snare. Despite its crazy structural antics, it was one of my favorites.
“Tel Aviv” provided the only throwback to Hebrew vocals and even though I couldn’t completely understand what he was saying (my Hebrew school days were a bit of a daze), it did’t take away from the soulfulness of the song. Then I hit “Bark and Bite,” an island funk diddy that both you and your hippie mom could rock out to (warning: hipster conga lines may form at random).
The Afro-beat influences that hooked early listeners on their debut were still there, but the tribal call and response vibes were more intricately toned and woven through out. The new wave ambiance and synth sounds coupled with predominantly English vocals offered a wider commercial appeal and the production efforts were smooth thanks to Fool’s Gold’s guitarist, Lewis Pesacov (who also produced the Best Coast LP).
I think this album opens up doors for drawing in new listeners who haven’t yet had a chance to fall in love with their first album. And, yes, The Smiths, The Cure and Vampire Weekend similarities/influences may be discussed and argued, but to me Fool’s Gold is their own band. They tread the harsh waters between staying true to your sound and moving forward into new, exciting musical soundscapes. I think Fool’s Gold finds a perfect balance with “Leave No Trace.”
So, come, boys and girls. Come feel the polyrhythmic glory of Fool’s Good…
Album Review by Emily Saex
- Listen to/share Fool’s Gold’s “Wild Window” click here
Listen to/share Fool’s Gold’s “Street Clothes” click here