Artist: Two Gallants
Album: We Are Undone
Label: ATO Records
Release Date: 02/03/2015
Call them what you want – garage-folk, country-punk, blues-rock or alternative Americana — but Two Gallants have been steadily releasing gem after gem for over a decade. A two-piece from San Francisco, drummer Tyson Vogel and guitarist and vocalist Adam Stephens had been making music together since their early teens; they released their first long-player The Throes back in 2004 when both were aged just 21 years old.
The key to the band’s appeal has always been the chance of pure escapism through their mythologizing of the American West combined with a modern cock-sure city swagger. Yet they also manage to remain acutely relatable with lyrics that have a remarkable accuracy when it comes to human emotion, heartbreak and grief.
Now on album five, Two Gallants have continued the development of their sound into something that’s possibly their most approachable and, dare I say, poppy. The melancholic yearning that characterized the band’s early releases is still very apparent; these are definitely the go-to guys for any grizzled millennial to sit around feeling sorry for himself with a bottle of booze after a nasty break-up (in a good way, that’s absolutely not a slight). But among the throng of anticipated introspective strummers, there are also toe-tapping tracks like opener “We Are Undone” (a rally against consumer culture) and “Fools Like Us” that, despite the lyrical content, can only be described as jaunty.
The piano-lead introduction of “Invitation To The Funeral” and the sly use of percussion on “Heart Breakdown” ensure an unpredictability to proceedings, but it’s the slow, burning, bluesy clatter of “Some Trouble” that is the album stand-out. It seems all but destined to become a rousing live staple.
Without completely abandoning the Grunge inflections of 2012’s The Bloom and the Blight, Two Gallants have returned to their earlier Blue-Grass style and while it’s doubtful We Are Undone will ever become a long term fan’s favorite release, it’s the perfect entry for a new listener to become easily enthused and search out the band’s earlier catalogue.
– Will Morley