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American Music Club - The Golden Age

American Music Club, Golden Age

Review by Jack Foley

IndieLondon Rating: 3 out of 5

“I DON’T intend to make songs dark or difficult. I want to make the best fucked up pop songs out there,” says Mark Eitzel, lead singer and songwriter of American Music Club.

Listening to the opening track of the band’s ninth studio album, The Golden Age, it’s very difficult to find anything “fucked up” either. Rather, All My Love is a serene, understated beauty of a track that washes over you in effortless fashion – Eitzel’s dusky vocals working well in tandem with the lovely acoustic guitar licks.

Unfortunately, the remainder of the album struggles to realise such beautiful moments as consistently, which I guess is where the “fucked up” element comes in.

Formed in 1982, American Music Club are noted for producing music that reflects their home country over the years they’ve been around. But first and foremost, it’s rooted in post punk, country and folk – with the emphasis more firmly on folk for The Golden Age.

When keeping it simple, as in All My Love, it’s really rather enticing. But there’s an inherent cleverness that gives rise to suspicions of pretentiousness on songs like The John Berchman Victory Choir, which drifts into more country territory.

Decibels And The Little Pills is another good track, incorporating a little more vigorous rhythms and demonstrating Eitzel’s flair for lyricism, while the acoustic guitar once again takes centre stage on the slow-building The Sleeping Beauty and The Stars.

But The Lost Souls Welcome You To San Francisco, with its mix of country and whimsical lyricism, doesn’t convince as it should, while the twisted pop of Who You Are is good without ever being great.

Windows On The World is a melancholy and effortlessly beautiful ode to the World Trade Center that offers a genuine pause for reflection, while there’s a cheeky mariachi waltz attached to the upbeat I Know That’s Not Really You.

But such moments aren’t as abundant as you might hope and The Golden Age eventually flatters to deceive. It contains several highs but there’s not really enough of them to elevate it to the classic status it so desperately seeks…

Download picks: Windows On The World, I Know That’s Not Really You, All My Love, Decibels And The Little Pills

Track listing:

  1. All My Love
  2. The Victory Choir
  3. The Decibels and the Little Pills
  4. The Sleeping Beauty
  5. The Stars
  6. All the Lost Souls Welcome You to San Francisco
  7. Who You Are
  8. The Windows of the World
  9. One Step Ahead
  10. The Dance
  11. I know That’s Not Really You
  12. On My Way
  13. The Grand Duchess of San Francisco